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Study: Arizona taxpayers contribute $686 million to low-wage businesses

PHOENIX — A recent study found Arizona taxpayers subsidize low-wage businesses with more than two-thirds of a billion dollars annually, The Phoenix Business Journal reported.

The study, conducted by the University of California Berkeley Labor Center, found state taxpayers subsidize $686 million a year to businesses paying low wages.

That is more than half the state budget for federal programs aiding poor families. The study also found that nearly three-quarters of the families enrolled in at least one public support system are working families.

Ken Jacobs, chair of the U.C. Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education and the study’s lead author, said the more money a family earns, the less public assistance they receive.

“When jobs don’t pay enough, workers turn to public assistance in order to meet their basic needs,” Jacobs said in an interview with the Phoenix Business Journal. “At both the state and federal levels, more than half of the total spending on the public assistance programs analyzed…goes to working families.”

These families make up 57 percent of the federal programs’ cost in Arizona and 51 percent of the states’ costs. Arizona has nearly 800,000 families enrolled in at least one of the four public assistance programs — Medicaid, child health program assistance, temporary aid and food stamps.