CLEVELAND - Connie Taylor sells hot dogs. And she’s happy about it.
“At least I’m not walking the street,” she said. But Taylor used to earn $100,000 a year. She left her job as a dental hygienist to raise her children. When she tried to return to the workforce a few years ago, the only steady work she could find was at the hot dog stand.
“Now, I make just enough to pay my rent, pay my electric, pay for gas and get some food,” said Taylor.
Her story, as it turns out, is pretty common in Ohio.
Workers in the Buckeye State are making less than they were a decade ago, according to Policy Matters Ohio , a non-profit research organization.
The median hourly wage made by Ohio workers fell more than in any other state between 2000 and 2010, according to the organization's new report The State of Working Ohio, 2011 .
In 2000, the report showed Ohio’s median hourly wage was $16.02 an hour. In 2010, the hourly wage had fallen to $15.16 an hour.
“We are just really shrinking in Ohio over the last decade,” said Amy Hanauer, the executive director of Policy Matters Ohio, and the report's author.
Ohio is one of 10 states where wages declined during the last decade. During that time period, the report stated the state lost 594,000 jobs.
Ohio's unemployment rate in July 2011 was nine-percent.
Hanauer said the loss of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. and Ohio has contributed significantly to shrinking wages.
“We've let a lot of manufacturing jobs leave the country. So, for a state like Ohio that historically was so strong in manufacturing, that's really problematic,” she said.
Hanauer also blamed the state’s history of slow job growth during the last decade for lower wages and high unemployment.
"We're letting some families fall off the cliff,” she said.
As for Taylor, she said selling hot dogs is easier than cleaning teeth. But, she admitted it's hard to adjust your expectations about the size of your paycheck.
"I never imagined I'd be doing this, ever,” she said.
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