Connecting the dots between learning
and employment.

Low-Wage Workers Are Finding Poverty Harder to Escape

Good story about how hard it is to escape poverty in minimum wage jobs, and the possible future of our PTECH students without PTECH.

JeraLee Kincaid, 23, is an $8.50-an-hour cashier who works at the checkout booth at a parking garage next to the Marriott Courtyard hotel downtown. A solid student in high school, Ms. Kincaid, who lives with her mother, planned to study computer programming in college, but instead her family decided that she needed to help pay the medical bills of a 5-year-old niece who has leukemia.

When Volkswagen opened a $1 billion assembly plant in 2011, 80,000 people applied for 2,000 jobs paying an average of $19.50 an hour. Many low-wage workers, like Ms. McCurdy — a high school dropout who later obtained her high school equivalency diploma — would have loved to work there, but they faced difficulty mastering the math tests given for jobs that involve advanced machinery.

“We understand that more individuals have to get some kind of higher education degree or certificate to have a chance in this world,” said Chattanooga’s mayor, Andy Berke. “We don’t want the South to be a place where businesses go to find low-wage, low-education jobs. That’s a long-term problem that midsized cities in the South face.

Read the full story here.