The most pressing problems in Western New York in sectors such as education, health, and crime 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 – nor do they 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 only way to make a major impact on poverty and the myriad, expensive problems it causes is to raise the wages of service sector workers.