Hourly wages in the U.S. have risen about 2.6 percent this year, according to the Bureau of Labor statistics. For the last 11 years, Bryan-College Station has had the lowest unemployment rate in the state, but statistics can be misleading.
Royce Hickman, with the Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce says, "Minimum wage is always something that's subject to debate. I think when it’s raised-it raises a lot of other things as well and it sometimes raises cost too."
In Texas, a worker must earn an average hourly wage of $13.84 to afford rent and utilities on a two-bedroom apartment. A Workforce Commission study says in Bryan-College Station, folks should be making at least $15 an hour.
"What we see when we do wage analysis is in many cases there's a dramatic difference in wages paid in our area compared to other areas," says Shannon Waddell, Program Manager with Workforce Solutions.
While that may not be a good thing for those employed, it’s one of the strongest selling points when bringing in new businesses.
Waddell adds, "Regardless it’s all about self sufficiency and earning that self sufficient wage."
The answer could be, when taking entry level jobs, build on them and work your way up to better paying jobs. Balancing low unemployment and low wages is a tightrope economic officials in Bryan-College Station are used to walking. But they're hopeful of recruiting more stable, higher-paying jobs before they reach the end of the rope.