Job Quality

You are viewing the Job Quality section of the Forsyth County Poverty Study. Click here to return to the table of contents.
Many part-time workers, and even some full-time workers, live in poverty, and to understand poverty in a community it is important to evaluate employment based on more than just hours worked.  It is important to measure whether workers are earning enough money to support their families and whether or not their hourly wages are high enough for them to do this without working more than full time.
Forsyth Futures measures the quality of jobs by looking at total pay and hourly wages.  It is important to understand these aspects of job quality, as the appropriate response to each situation can be different.  Potential situations are: 
  • Workers may need additional hours.
  • Workers may need higher hourly wages.
  • Workers may need additional hours as well as higher hourly wages.  
Understanding which groups are most likely to hold insufficient jobs can identify groups most likely to benefit from employment-related interventions.   
Forsyth Futures considers a worker’s job to be sufficient if that worker is earning enough income at a high enough hourly wage to meet his or her needs without working more than 40 hours a week.  Jobs that do not meet this criterion are considered insufficient.  For further detail on this measure, click here.

Important Links

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About this Study
Executive Summary
Key Findings

Core Concepts

This section shows that a large portion of workers have insufficient jobs:
  • About 50% of workers in Forsyth County do not earn enough money to meet their needs without having to work more than full-time, and many workers do not earn enough money despite working at least full-time.
  • Younger workers and racial minorities are more likely to have insufficient jobs.

Job Insufficiency

A job is sufficient when workers earn enough income at a high enough hourly wage to meet their needs without working more than 40 hours a week.  Jobs that do not meet this criteria are considered insufficient, though there are several different situations which can lead to an insufficient job, as is illustrated in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Job Quality for Adult Workers Not in School in Forsyth County, 2014
Figure 1 shows that about half of workers can meet expenses without working overtime and are considered to have sufficient jobs (top left).
  • About half of workers cannot meet expenses without working overtime and are considered to have insufficient jobs.
  • About a third of workers do not earn sufficient income and, due to low hourly wages, could only do so through overtime (bottom right).  The vast majority of these workers work full time or more.  
  • A small portion of workers obtain sufficient income only through overtime work (top right) or work part-time with insufficient income but could earn enough with full-time work (bottom left).
* Data has high level of variance and should be interpreted with caution.
Figure 2: Job Insufficiency by Geography, 2014
Figure 3 shows that about 50% of jobs in Forsyth County do not allow workers to meet expenses without working overtime. This is similar to rates of job insufficiency in the peer communities.
Bars of a lighter color indicate no statistical difference compared to Forsyth County. 
There was no data available for Roanoke (munc.); it was omitted from this visualization.

Job Quality by Age

This section examines how people of different ages are affected differently by job quality in Forsyth County.
Figure 3: Job Insufficiency by Age, 2014
Figure 3 demonstrates that as workers age, they are progressively less likely to hold an insufficient job.
  • Three-quarters of workers ages 18 to 24 cannot meet expenses without working overtime.
  • Workers age 25 to 44 and 45 to 64 are about 20% and 40% less likely to have insufficient jobs than workers aged 18 to 24, respectively.
The particularly high job insufficiency for residents between 18 and 24 may be, in part, because this age group is more likely to be in single-person families than other age groups. Job insufficiency assumes that single-person families live in their own 1-bedroom apartment, and there may be some workers with insufficient wages, particularly between 18 and 24 years old, with a roommate who would have sufficient jobs if their shared housing expenses were taken into account.

Job Quality by Race/Ethnicity

This section breaks down job quality to examine how people of different races and/or ethnicities are affected differently by Forsyth County.
Figure 4: Job Insufficiency by Race/Ethnicity, 2014
Figure 4 illustrates that there are large racial disparities in job insufficiency rates.
  • Job insufficiency is lowest among White, non-Hispanic workers.
  • Over half of African American workers and about three-quarters of Hispanic/Latino workers have insufficient jobs.
Christopher Webb, MPP
Christopher is a Data and Research Analyst with Forsyth Futures.  He performs statistical analysis and programming to support work on community issues in Forsyth County. 
He holds a Master's in Public Policy from American University, and a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Business.
If you have questions or comments about the data presented in this section, please contact Christopher at or by phone at 336.701.1700 ext. 108.


Tabular References

Figures 1-4: U.S. Department of Commerce. (2015). American Community Survey 1-year Public Use Microdata [Data files from PUMS 1-year estimates for the year 2014]. Retrieved from