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The most pressing problems in Western New York in many areas of life, including education, healthcare, and criminal justice, can be traced to a single root: poverty. Families living in poverty suffer from lower graduation rates, more chronic diseases, and more criminal violence than families earning living wages. In our region, as around the nation, roughly 45% of workers are employed in low-wage service sector jobs. Those jobs are not going away; in fact, they are the fastest growing occupations in the economy. They do not require – or pay a premium for –high levels of education, and so gains in education will have a minimal impact on the wages they pay (already, more than two in five restaurant workers have some college education). The key to reducing poverty and the myriad, expensive problems it causes is to raise the wages of service sector workers.