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Job Gap Study Revealed

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Montana has a low unemployment rate, but there are a lot of lower-paying job openings.

The number of Montanans working full-time and relying on government assistance is on the rise. According to the 2013 Job Gap Study, it's Montana's low minimum wage and industries that primarily offer part-time jobs. That makes it difficult for workers to support themselves and their families. "We've got too many Montanans working full time who are unable to meet the basic needs of life," Montana Representative Kelly McCarthy said.

McCarthy said many Montanans work more than 40 hours a week in retail and food service, and they are still relying on government assistance, like food stamps, to get by. "We've just found the least dignified ways to share those resources. If we had a raise in the minimum wage we would get rid of a lot of those problems," McCarthy said.

"It's very demeaning to people. They don't enjoy it. It's a necessity they're pushed up against. it's stories like that make it very obvious that we need to increase the minimum wage, create full-time employment for people that isn't just part part-time," Sister Mary Dostal said.

Sister Mary Dostal said boosting the minimum wage and creating affordable health care would release some of the burden. "I have rather strong feelings on how we are obligated to see people don't fall through the cracks in our country," Dostal said.

According to the 2013 Job Gap Study, the hourly wage for a Montanan to get by without government assistance is nearly $14, and statistics show there is only one living-wage job available for every 8 Montanans looking for work.

By MacLeod Hageman - KULR-8

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