LexWork is an action group of LEX-CHIP made up of community partners and stakeholders who focus on identifying barriers to employment and the ability to earn a living wage and finding ways to break through the employment wall!
EDUCATION, INCOME, & EMPLOYMENT
With the majority of our waking hours spent at work, the benefits of being compensated for our work with a good wage and working in a safe environment impact our health. Income, health insurance, paid sick leave, and work site wellness programs are some of the benefits that encourage healthy choices.
These are opportunities that are often more available to higher wage earners. Research clearly links more education to better employment options, increased social support, and higher incomes, which can lead to healthier opportunities. Additionally, those with lower educational attainment often have jobs that are riskier, lack adequate income for quality child care, and benefits fewer.
The unemployed population experiences worse health and higher mortality rates than the employed population. Unemployment has been shown to lead to an increase in unhealthy behaviors related to alcohol and tobacco consumption, diet, exercise, and other health-related behaviors, which in turn can lead to increased risk for disease or mortality, including suicide. Because employer-sponsored health insurance is the most common source of health insurance coverage, unemployment can also limit access to health care.
On average, college graduates live nine more years than those who do not complete high school. Parental education is linked to children’s health and educational attainment. Children whose mothers graduated from college are twice as likely to live past their first birthday. Stress and poor health early in life are linked to decreased cognitive development, increased tobacco and drug use and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and other conditions.
Data shows that 29.3% of adults ages 25 and older hold a bachelor’s degree or higher in Fayette County. This is a substantially higher percentage than the state as a whole (21.8%) and the United States (29.3%). By race, educational attainment was highest among the Asian (67.4%) and Whites (46.4%) in comparison with 18.6% of African Americans and 15.1% of Latinos/Hispanics.
SOCIAL & ECONOMIC FACTORS
Social and economic factors have a large impact on our health. Where we live can have more impact on our health than our genes. Access to safe communities, lifelong learning opportunities, chances to earn a good wage, access to affordable healthy foods, and a sense of connection, are key.
Income has a huge impact on overall health, with adults in the highest income brackets living, on average, more than six years longer than those with the lowest income. Poverty causes ongoing stress and challenges that can cause cumulative physical
and mental health damage. Children living in poverty have higher rates of illness than higher income children. Those with the lowest incomes are more impacted by chronic illnesses.
Income impacts the number of children living in poverty. In Fayette County, 23.1% of children are living in poverty (compared to 26.1% of KY). This means nearly 1 in every 5 children in our community are living in poverty. An increase in poverty coincides with an increase in Fayette County and Kentucky in the number of students who qualify for
free and reduced lunch at their school.
Transportation options include buses, cars, bikes, sidewalks, streets, bike paths and highways. This complex system connects people to each other and the places they live, work, learn, and play. Without sidewalks, neighborhoods can be disconnected from grocery stores, parks, and other infrastructure that are needed to make healthier choices more accessible.
Lexington has a public transit system that is utilized by a large number of residents. According to the Lextran Service and Fare Equity Analysis (2015), the race distribution among users is vastly different than the racial makeup of the county as a whole. The majority of the public transit users are African American (44%). In the survey, 64% of Lextran users reported a yearly income of less than $20,000. This is in contrast to the greatest percentage of income for Fayette County falling between $15,000-$34,999 per year.
Lextran is used by 58% to get to and from work, the highest reported trip purpose. This was an increase from 51% in 2015, showing that more users are dependent on this mode of transportation to get to work. Sixty-six percent of the respondents reported having no available alternative transportation, and 24% had access to only one vehicle in their household.
Annual weekday ridership increased by 9% from FY 2015 to FY 2016 and total annual ridership increased 9.3% from FY 2015 to FY 2016. Lextran attributes part of this rise to an increased partnership with the University of Kentucky. All University of Kentucky students can ride Lextran for free and have designated campus routes.