Away from the Boston technology hub, the poor only get poorer
Economic inequality has grown across Massachusetts, but no one has to tell Mindy Shoestock that.
Laid off several years ago from a $12-an-hour job as a housekeeping supervisor at a ski lodge, she took a job at a local McDonald’s, where she earns just $9 a hour. Cable TV and a phone are luxuries she simply cannot afford; some months she runs out of money to buy food for her two children.
“I feel like I’m going backwards,’’ Shoestock said, hot and tired after a recent shift. “Sometimes I feel like I work just to work.’’
Shoestock, 29, is part of a forgotten economy. While family incomes across Massachusetts have generally risen over the past three decades, the state’s poorest residents have fallen behind. And nowhere have they fallen farther than here in Western Massachusetts, where families in the bottom fifth of the income scale have seen inflation-adjusted earnings drop below 1979 levels, according to a new study by University of Massachusetts economists.