No Ordinary Princess

...anything but ordinary...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Living Minimum Wage

Here comes a bitchy post because I'm premenstrual and bitchy as hell and just because I can. Nyah.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for a Democratic Congress working hard to raise the ridiculously low minimum wage in this country. What does it stand at now...$5.15 an hour? A worker working 40 hours a week at that rate would gross $206.00 a week or around $800 a month. This is before taxes are taken out. How many of us could come even close to surviving on thaat amount. Okay, so I might have some readers who like to spend money and some who are compulsive shoe buyers so let's leave those things out. This amount wouldn't cover my rent alone.

So, let's look at how a worker would make out if the national minimum wage was raised to $7.25 an hour, a number I believe I've heard bandied about in recent months. $7.25 an hour grosses one $290 a week or $1,160 a month. Now I've got my rent covered and my utilities but nothing left over for food or other important things (medicines and such...forget a night on the town). I am a single woman with no dependents but the dog I cannot claim on my income tax return even though her vet bills are more, out of pocket, than my own health care. Throw a few kids in the mix and things get very sticky.

I like the idea Chicago had...raising the minimum wage retailers with 90,000 square feet or more of retail space must pay their employees to a more reasonable level of $10.00 per hour plus benefits (which would equal about $3.00) per hour. It addresses underpayment and underinsurance of employees. $10.00 per hour equals $400 per week and $1,600 per month. Now we're talking about something a couple with children could really begin to care for their families on.

Many firms which employ people at lower wages (in my area it's convenience stores, gas stations, fast-food operations and family-owned businesses) often pay in the vicinity of $7.00 per hour already as they've had trouble finding people willing to work for the national minimum. So, really, an increase in the federal minimum to $7.25 isn't going to be of much benefit to these people. Why don't we look at what it really costs to reasonably live a life in a community or region and tailor the minimum to what the actual cost of living is in that area, region. state?

I guess I should be happy for a start. Unfortunately, the Chicago plan was vetoed by the mayor so it's scrapped. I am encouraged by the many cities in which voters approved living wage referenda.

A few resources on the living wage:

Living Wage Resource Center
Center for Policy Alternatives
Economic Policy Institute: Living Wage Facts

tags: economic justice / economy / poverty / US politics


Anonymous Veronica said...

That's really cool about Chicago and Wally World.

9/12/06 4:02 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Yeah! Go, Chi-town!

9/12/06 5:29 PM  
Blogger Freudian Slip said...

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. And so continues the cycle :(

27/4/07 1:14 PM  

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