Downtown Springfield looking north on April 24, 2017 TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Photo: Ty Greenlees
Photo: Ty Greenlees

What should workers be paid Clark County? A study is asking that and other questions

The University of Cincinnati Economics Center is conducting a survey over the next several weeks to learn more about how much of Clark County’s workforce lives in Clark County and what portion lives across county lines.

The project is being led by the Community Improvement Corp. and Chamber and is funded through a contract with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

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“We’re trying to get the work patterns of the people that work in our community,” said Horton Hobbs, vice president of economic development for the Chamber of Greater Springfield. “Where did they go to high school, where did they go to college, where do they work and what zip code do they live in. It will really help us have a better understanding of how we attract and grow our workforce internally.”

The survey for that study is available online, and information will also be mailed out in utility bills for many residents.

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A separate study with the university will also provide information about wages, particularly what area employers need to offer to provide local workers with a suitable living wage, Hobbs said.

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Hobbs said there is concern that for some residents who receive benefits like food stamps or housing subsidies, a slightly higher wage may actually be a disincentive to work because the small increase in their paycheck could cause them to lose benefits. The study from the University of Cincinnati would review how much employers might need to pay to make it clearly more beneficial for residents to work.

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Staff with the University of Cincinnati Economics Center could not be reached for comment.

“Many of those social safety net programs are vitally important to families,” Hobbs said. “But often they make it very difficult for an individual to make a decision between benefits and pay increases at work. We’re trying to get our head around that so we can have an informed conversation perhaps with state legislators but certainly with our local workforce partners.”

The goal is to complete the studies by this summer, Hobbs said.

“My hope is what the study shows is where the wages are and where self-sufficiency lies in our community,” Hobbs said. “Where’s the liveable wage that is required for an individual to make a living. And if they are seeing benefits, how are those affected by wage increases or decreases. When you see that you can have some strategic conversations around thee wage we incentivize people to work or disincentivize people to work based on the level of benefits they receive.”

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