It costs a family of four in the state of Louisiana $54,000 a year to cover basic needs. New studies show 48 percent of households in the state don’t make enough money to pay for those basic necessities.
Raising the minimum wage and closing the gender gap are campaign promises made by the governor that he’s yet to meet. Minimum wage in Louisiana remains at the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour. When comparing the amount of money people are making to the cost of living, things aren’t adding up.
“We have so many households that are being handled by single women especially, so when we don’t pay them fairly and when we are paying them an abusive minimum wage those children are living in poverty. Many of them needlessly and we ought to do better,” says Governor John Bel Edwards.
Closing the wage gap and raising minimum-wage are two campaign promises the governor has yet to meet. The new numbers from the ALICE report conducted by United Way shows a 6 percent increase in the number of poor families in the state since 2014.
“Alice is an acronym for asset limited, income constraint, employed. It’s another word for the working poor,” explains Ginger Lecompte with United Way.
“Some of our families have to work up to 68 hours a week in order to afford housing for their family,” says Renee Menard.
She is the director of Family Promises of Acadiana. They are a shelter that takes in families experiencing homelessness.
“When we first started in 2004 we could get a family out in 45 days,” Menard. “That means they were employed and they can afford their rent at a decent portion of their salary. Nowadays our families are staying longer not because they are not working and not making money but because we cannot find housing that they can afford on what they’re making.”
There isn’t one easy fix to this multifaceted problem of families not having enough money to get by. Those working to help these families say solution to the problem starts by improving education.
Lecompte says, “When we move the needle on one area, we really affect indirectly all of the other areas. It’s going to take a joint effort from the business community, from nonprofits, from leaders, legislators, policymakers well come together to find solutions.”
Sixty-six percent of jobs in Louisiana now pay less than $20 per hour, and the majority of those pay less than $15 per hour.
For more information about Family Promises of Acadiana you can visit their website here.