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City Club of Eugene: Finding Fairness in Wages

Program Date: Nov. 12, 2021

Air Date: Nov. 15, 2021

From the City Club of Eugene:

Mainstream and social media are full of critiques of wages. Prominent among them is the claim that wages are too low, especially in Lane County, and that the gap between what basic survival costs and what a person can earn grows ever larger. Furthermore, the distance between the incomes of ordinary workers and business owners seems to be growing too. Is the perception of regionally low wages supported by the facts? How might a business improve wages while prudently managing a company’s bottom line?

Among the lowest wage jobs is childcare. Providing the number of slots that a fully engaged workforce needs has been a challenge, and one of the causes is low wages. Taking care of other people’s children requires knowledge and skills, usually involving a license or certificate. Research shows that investment in early childhood education saves quite a lot in the long run—but low wages do not attract and sustain the highly qualified workforce that is needed. As many new parents soon learn, paying a professional wage for childcare soon proves untenable. This problem cannot readily be solved by prudent management of the bottom line.

In this program, three experts will share facts and ideas about wages. Henry Fields will describe the situation in Lane County and compare it with other localities. Sarah Kalloch will explain some of the ways smart companies have found to offer better wages. And Megan Pratt will talk about how public policies and institutions can promote better childcare for preschoolers.

Resources mentioned in this program include links to the speakers’ organizations (see Speaker information) and:




Henry Fields is the Oregon Employment Department’s Workforce Analyst and Economist for Lane and Douglas Counties. In this role, he provides regional economic data and labor market information to improve business decisions. Raised in Coos Bay, he earned a BA from the University of Oregon and a graduate degree in Public Administration from Indiana University.

Sarah Kalloch is the Executive Director of the Good Jobs Institute, whose mission is to help companies thrive by creating good jobs. She builds partnerships with companies looking to implement the Good Jobs Strategy and creates tools and resources to inspire and guide any organization that wants to improve the terms of employment. Sarah previously spent more than a decade in international development, at Oxfam America and Physicians for Human Rights, and in Uganda as a Michael Rockefeller Fellow, conducting research on gender and economics in fishing communities around Lake Victoria. She earned a BA from Harvard and an MBA from Sloan School of Management at MIT.

Megan Pratt coordinates the Oregon Child Care Research Partnership, which conducts research related to child care policy at the local and state levels. Her work focuses on understanding early learning and care at regional, state, and national levels. With her team, she leads research on topics, such as family and provider experiences with Oregon’s child care subsidy program, the role of public funding in building and maintaining Oregon’s child care supply, and estimating the price of care to families across Oregon. She earned a BA from Southern Oregon University and an MS and PhD from Oregon State University in human development and family sciences.

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