This is the best research we’ve seen on how many Americans are really struggling financially, and it is heartbreaking

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Employers can get ahead by investing in their workers, with higher wages.
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Rebecca Cook/Reuters

A staggering number of Americans aren’t making a living wage.

That’s the takeaway from a great bit of data from Just Capital, a nonprofit set up by legendary hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones.

The organization has built some interactive maps showing the percentage of Americans making a living wage and the income required to pay for a family’s living expenses, by county.

The dark green areas are those where a higher percentage of the population make a living wage, while light green areas are those where a smaller percentage make the living wage.

As you’ll see from the interactives below, there are huge swaths of the country where a significant chunk of the local population earns less than the living wage.


A staggering number of Americans aren’t making a living wage.

Just Capital defines the living wage thus:

A living wage is defined as the income needed to pay for a family’s living expenses (housing, health care, child care, and transportation) in a given county. JUST Capital uses a Census-based representative family unit consisting of two adults (one working full-time, one working part-time) and one child in its living wage analysis of America’s largest companies.

The interactive graphics show just how many people are failing to make the living wage.

Graphiq

Take New Mexico, for example. The percentage of the population making at least the living wage is sub-50% in: Rio Arriba County, Taos County, Mora County, McKinley County, Curry County, De Bacca County, Lincoln County, Catron County, Socorro County, Chaves County, Roosevelt County, and Otero County, among others.


The living wage differs from county to county.

The numbers are based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and take into account regional differences in living wages.

Graphiq

For example, the living wage in Suffolk County, New York, is $21.52 an hour, while inRio Arriba County, New Mexico, it is $15.59.


The research is especially damning for the retail industry.

A separate interactive shows the percentage of retail workers making a living wage in each county, and the map of America is almost uniformly light green.

Graphiq

The numbers highlight the extent to which regular Americans are struggling financially. It’s something we’ve written about a lot at Business Insider. Close to half (46%) of Americans would struggle to cover an unexpected $400 expense, according to research from the Federal Reserve.

These interactive graphics put the extent of the problem into perspective.