Just how much constitutes a living wage? Minimum wage certainly doesn’t cut it. Since 2009, the federal minimum wage has stood at $7.25 an hour – though some states pay less and a few paid more. But if you were paid the federal minimum and were lucky enough to get 40 hours of work a week, you’d gross a whopping $290 for that week’s work… and if you never took a day off, you’d gross an annual income of $15,080.
For a family of two, that qualifies you as earning less than the federal poverty limit.
In a nutshell, corporations that don’t pay their employees a living wage are costing the American taxpayers billions of dollars each year, as those employees need subsidies to survive. It’s a vicious circle and only the rich are getting richer while the rest of us struggle to make ends meet.
This morning on the show, I spoke with Elizabeth Parisian, policy director at Stand Up! Chicago, who’s been working with the Fight for 15 campaign to push for a raise to $15 an hour for retail and fast food workers in Chicago.
The sad fact is that many jobs available today would not provide for adequate support of even one person, let alone a family. And it’s not only in the fast food and retail sectors. I just completed a course and am in the process of getting certified as a substitute teacher here in Broward County, Florida. During the class, the teacher talked about the fact that the pay is good.
Really? It pays $85 a day. For an 8-hour day, that comes out to slightly more than $10 per hour. Granted, it’s better than $7.25 (or $7.49, minimum wage here in FL as of 1/1/13), but not much.
Hopefully, tonight during his State of the Union address, President Obama will talk about not only the need for jobs, but the need for well-paying jobs and a much higher minimum wage.
If you’re on twitter as I am, you’ve likely recently noticed a lot of tweets with the #uniteblue hashtage, or perhaps a twibbon of interlocking Ds logo.
And finally, with Presidents Day weekend rapidly approaching, I pulled out an interview I did with 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben in December in which he told us about this weekend’s Forward on Climate rally in DC. If you can get there, you should!