A researcher from Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations designed a free tool, The Wage Atlas Tool, that allows users to look at wage data by profession and different demographic variables. The tool shows that only half of New Yorkers are making a living wage.

Compassion Coalition is a non-profit that runs Bargain Grocery in Utica. He knows food insecurity is an issue across New York State.

“What we’ve kind of focused on here at Bargain Grocery is to establish our grocery store in the middle of a community where people don’t have access to maybe public transportation or a vehicle. They’re able to walk to our store and basically, for the most part, get a full-service grocery store,” said Joe Servello, the chief operating officer at Compassion Coalition.

Servello’s experience is reflected in data gathered by researchers at Cornell University.

“The Wage Atlas is meant to come in and be a supplement to some of those other sources of wage data in New York State,” said Dr. Russell Weaver, the director of research at the Cornell Industrial and Labor Relations Buffalo Co-Lab and the architect for the Wage Atlas Tool. “It’s meant to supplement that data so researchers can look for disparities, so they can look for unevenness in the distribution of wages across those demographic breakdowns like gender or race or age.”

Officials say their research shows that only about 50% percent of New Yorkers are earning a living wage.

At Bargain Grocery, Servello says they work hard to serve all demographics.

“We try to spend a lot of time procuring fresh vegetables, things that are a universal language, a universal food for different ethnicities. About 25% of our customer base are refugees," Servello said.

And while they want to encourage healthy eating, they also want to provide food that all families want.

“You know, something that would normally cost them a lot of money, they got the option to buy excellent items at a very affordable price," he said.

“It shows that we have a long way to go, to make sure folks in New York State are able to afford their basic needs," Weaver said.

Weaver says he hopes policymakers can use the Wage Atlas Tool’s data to make decisions to push for all New Yorkers to earn a living wage.