To stabilize communities in Southeast Louisiana, all families need the skills, resources, and opportunities to meet basic needs today. Earning a living wage—the wage required in a particular area to meet basic needs without government assistance—is the first step to ensuring household stability.

For example, experts have worked to develop alternative measures to common poverty thresholds that take into account modern-day expenses, family size, and regional cost of living differences. These measures are often called “living wage calculations”. There are a few reliable living wage calculations, including United Way’s ALICE thresholds, but the one included in this dashboard comes from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

According to data measured between 2012 and 2016, among the seven parishes served by United Way of Southeast Louisiana, Washington and Orleans have the highest share of households earning below a living wage, at 64 percent and 60 percent respectively. In both St. Bernard and Tangipahoa parishes, more than half of households earn below a living wage, at 56 percent and 51 percent respectively. In both Jefferson and Plaquemines parishes, 50 percent of all households have earnings below a living wage. Even in St. Tammany Parish, 40 percent of all households earn below a living wage. In each parish, white households are the least likely to earn below a living wage. 

Percentage of people below a living wage