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Orange County has plenty of jobs, they just aren’t keeping up with the cost of living. You need to make over $25 an hour just to afford a one-bedroom apartment, which is why, despite a 3.7 percent unemployment rate, 13 percent of our residents live in poverty.

More than anyone, low wages hurt kids.

A family’s financial strain at home is one of the most dominant contributing factors to a staggering increase in depression and mental health among over 50,000 children between the age of 13 and 18 in Orange County.

Children shouldn’t have to suffer because of failed leadership and economic decisions beyond their control. Michael Kotick has a multifaceted plan to lift wages while driving economic growth and boosting businesses. It’s a win-win.

First, California is well on a path towards a $15 minimum wage by 2023 and it only makes sense to extend it nationwide. It’s not just the humane thing to do, it helps our workforce and employers compete with out-of-state businesses. It’s good for workers, and it also has been proven to be better for the economics of a community. But that still leaves families $10 an hour short of what they need to get by in Orange County.

We need to do more than simply rely on the minimum wage. The good news is that better jobs are readily available. Over 45 percent of HR Managers say that they have higher paying, unfillable jobs due to a shortage of mid-skilled workers (those with a high school degree and basic 21st century workplace skills, such as basic computer skills or certifications that take less than one year). We need to support the 62 percent of OC residents who don’t have a college degree to move up in the workforce with more advanced training.

Call it up-employment. Companies need the workers and workers need the better paying jobs. All we lack is the will and unity to create policy and programs that will improve the lives of people and the success of our businesses. This isn’t an economic issue, it’s a leadership problem.

Simply talking about the minimum wage in isolation misses the point, because even the highest minimum wage in the nation isn’t enough to meet the cost of living in Orange County. Michael Kotick believes someone asking for your vote shouldn’t wait to start working on solutions, which is why he is already working on partnerships to connect workers with better paying jobs. Sign up and be the first to know how Michael Kotick is taking action to improve lives in Orange County.