“A Poverty Wage Center”
A new report examines the wages of employees at the Queens Center Mall in Elmhurst, Queens. It found that the retail jobs at the mall were primarily part-time, low-wage jobs that offer little chance of advancement or a pay raise. One woman that was interviewed was making only $8.47 an hour after working for JC Penny for over eight years.
This account would not be so alarming if these jobs were held primarily by young adults and high school students, but half of all retail workers are 35 years old or older. Many families are supported on wages earned in retail and 90,000 children in the city have parents employed in the retail sector.
And it is alarming because retail is the second-fastest growing sector in New York City, second only to the equally low-paying sector of home health aides. In the next seven years, the city will add 22,000 cashier jobs, with an average salary of $17,000. The city will also add 32,000 retail salespersons, average salary of $21,000.
This is why we must take action now to improve the wages and benefits in these fast-growing sectors, to ensure that working families can support themselves. Otherwise, the city will find itself in the troublesome position of supporting working families with public assistance while taxable income shrinks.