Quality Jobs

Desired Trend


Current Trend

Baseline (2010): 34.8%
Current (2017): 38.8%

Theme Prosperous


Percent of jobs with a self-sufficiency wage.

Why is it Important?

Quality jobs are those that provide sufficient wages, benefits, job security, and advancement opportunities to enable workers to meet their daily needs. Due to the complex definition of quality jobs, this performance indicator uses a simplified definition that focuses solely on the wage of jobs. It does not consider benefits, job security, or advancement opportunities. Specifically, quality jobs are those with a living wage, allowing workers to provide a minimum standard of living for their families without relying on government assistance. This indicator uses the living wage thresholds from the Massachusetts Institute for Technology Living Wage Calculator.1 A person’s livable wage varies by family size and whether or not a spouse is present and working. For the St. Louis region, a livable wage for a 1 adult, 1 child family is $24.53 per hour, or $51,024 per year for 2017. For a 2 adult, 1 child household with both adults working, the livable wage is $13.20 per hour, or $27,456 annually.

How are we Doing?

In 2017, 38.8 percent of workers in the St. Louis MSA had a quality job. This is higher than in 2010, when 34.8 percent of workers had a quality job. Over the last 10 years, the percent of workers with a quality job dipped in the years following the last recession, falling from a peak of 37.8 in 2007 to a low of 33.5 in 2011. Since 2011, the percentage of quality jobs has steadily risen.

In all 50 of the most populous U.S. regions, less than half of jobs have a wage that is considered a livable for that region. The Where We Stand tables show that St. Louis ranks relatively well compared to the peer regions. This is partly due to the low cost of living in the region. St. Louis’ living wage requirement for a 1 adult, 1 child households ranks 36th among the peers.

Geographic Level

St. Louis Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). View map.


1The living wage threshold for this indicator comes from the Living Wage Calculator, which provides an estimate of the wage needed to support families of various sizes for the St. Louis MSA. A 1 adult, 1 child family is used as a benchmark for this analysis because families with two working adults and children require a lower wage, while families with two adults and children but only one worker require similar or higher wages to support their families. Therefore, the 1 adult, 1 child benchmark represents a mid-level standard for families. 

2Values are adjusted for inflation. This indicator uses annual self-reported wages from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey Public Use Microdata.

3 National Employment Law Project, The Low-Wage Recovery and Growing Inequality, August 2012; accessed on 15 January 2014 at http://www.nelp.org/index.php/content/content_about_us/tracking_the_recovery_after_the_great_recession

Data Sources

Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics and Living Wage Calculator, Poverty in America