|By Dave Flessner, Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
"There are plenty of jobs," he said. "But they don't pay anything."
In fact, a new
The BLS estimates that 7.4 percent of
"Much of the work in the South, historically speaking, is labor-intensive," Keilany said.
"There's a higher concentration of employment in those than in the rest of the country," he said. About three times the national average concentration, he said, in what are typically minimum and lower-wage jobs.
Four states have minimum wages that are less than the federal standard of
In recent months, President
"It's hard to raise a family or maintain a lifestyle when you're making less than
Business groups have fought state attempts to impose a minimum wage or to raise the federal minimum wage.
"It's a starter wage for the vast majority of people," said
The BLS said last year that nearly one of every five teenage workers was paid the minimum, compared to only 2.7 percent of workers over age 25.
Marston said the annual mean wage in
He said urban areas typically have higher average incomes than rural ones, and that a lot of the state's minimum-wage jobs are in
Regardless, Marston said, he didn't expect to find
"It does surprise me a little bit, but it didn't surprise me that we would be toward the top of that list," he said. "I don't think this is anything new."
Womack said the evidence supporting
Womack is a shift manager at a fast-food restaurant and barely makes more than
Womack said she isn't sure she'll ever be able to make enough to be comfortable in
"We're just looking for something better," she said.
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