Minimum Wage in the United States
I was curious about this whole, $15/hr thing. We have, basically, a class-based war, waged by various levels of working class people, fighting each other, because of what we're exposed to by the media, by posts like this, by rhetoric, by anger, lots of emotions - very few facts, and never a clear picture.
I'm going to look at some data, crunch some numbers, and attempt to change my mind on the issue. My belief is pretty simple, minimum wage jobs don't actually exist to provide a living wage, rather, they exist to train job skills to entry level employees as they step through the gauntlet of life. Living Wage
I'm going to use a very simplified version of what a living wage in the United States looks like, based on one factor taken from a Google search, "the average price of a 1 bedroom apartment's rent in the United States", it's $982 per month. Multiply it by 3 = $2946. Multiply that by 12 = $35,352.
That's our living wage, for the sake of this post. Simple math, probably not accurate, but it seems pretty darn close to me. If I was making $36,000 per year, I'd be broke, but that's the result of a series of lifestyle choices, career decisions, and (quite possibly) pushing my "living beyond my means" bar a little higher every year since I became a "skilled professional"... which, oddly enough, seems to be a good enough summation of "the rest of us lucky ones" in the middle class.Occupation Projections 2012 - 2022
Now, mind you, if these are less than $35,352 per year, it's basically below the assumed national average living wage in the US... I'm going to list the jobs by current employment, highest to lowest:
Type / Openings (in 1000's) / Average Annual Pay
Retail / 1,955.7 / $21,110
Cashiers / 1,530.0 / $18,970
Office Clerks / 810.9 / $27,470
Food Service / 1,557.0 / $18,260
Registered Nurses / 1,052.6 / $65,470
Customer Service Reps / 941.6 / $30,580
Waiter/Waitress / 1,268.3 / $18,540
Secretaries / 587.6 / $32,410
Janitors / 717.3 / $22,320
Freight & Stock Labor / 922.5 / $23,890
General Managers / 613.1 / $95,440
Stock Clerks / 546.0 / $22,050
Bookkeeping / 370.0 / $35,170
The list keeps going, and the picture is actually pretty bleak. Nursing and General managers are projected to account for 1.6 million openings in the next 10 years. Put that against the current 158,000,000 (rough #) adult Americans today, the disparity is obvious, and those are the only two in this top 12 list that actually pay above the conjectured "living wage". Also, if under $36,000/year jobs exist to help bring entry level workers into the working class, what are things like, Bookkeeper, Secretaries, Janitors, etc doing in this list? Those are definitely not jobs held by students, their hours alone wouldn't allow it to be a match.
Some other interesting occupations that pay (on average) less than $36,000 per year, and which are clearly adult in nature: nurses assistants, paramedics, EMT, firefighters, housekeepers/cleaners, repairmen, childcare workers, teacher's assistants, landscapers, security guards, cooks, receptionists, teachers, home-health aids, light truck/delivery services, shipping/receiving traffic clerks, packers/packagers, hairdressers/stylists, farm workers, medical assistants, bartenders, bank tellers, bus drivers, preschool teachers, bill collectors (ironic), social and human services (more ironic)...
This is manufactured poor.What the actual fuck?
What would it cost to pay people a living wage in the US? Far too much, because there are far too many people living underneath it. Can it be fixed? I don't know. I doubt it. Looking at this, my hands just go up, like, "shit, no idea wtaf the nation can do about this..."; it's not even about jobs exiting the nation in favor of cheap labor overseas. It looks like most of those workers would be below the living-wage line anyway, so they'd need what most people on this list need... two fucking jobs
So, let's be honest, minimum wage probably should be raised, sure - across the board. If not to elevate the status-quo for other professions in what we deem "low paying" is when it comes to getting a job... say, for example, a teacher's salary being $8000 less than minimum wage sounds a lot worse than $24,000 a year.
Besides, $15 per hour is actually $3000 less than the living wage number too... if you can still get 40 hour per week at that rate. You'd need to work a bit of overtime... if the company you're working at will allow you to claim it. Wal*mart, for example, will dock your hours from one week to the next, to keep your median take within the range they deem "decent pay" for their employees. Even worse, people in Washington responded to the higher wages by asking for LESS hours because they're striving to stay in their Section 8 programs; as that solution is "common place" for a number of 'upper lower class' individuals.
Speaking of...We're already paying for it
Yep! A vast majority of people in the above list are in government aid programs to help them with little things like... oh, you know, food
. Section 8, no joke, sucks. Government cheese sucks. But, hey, at least EBT comes on a discreet debit card these days, so you don't have to swallow your pride handing actual stamps to the lady behind the register anymore.
Where's all that come from? The taxpayers, you say? Yep. Basically. But the actual tax payers... the real ones. The people who work 40+ hour weeks for some people in a board room.
I know a lot of people hate math, but when you pit this problem against actual tax payers, it certainly isn't coming out of the pockets of our super wealthy. Tax shelters, write offs, corporate investments, venture funds... all the vernacular anyone making less than $65,000 a year can't really afford to understand, let alone use.A lot of us are poor, a lot of us don't care
What am I going to do? By myself, probably nothing. I have my businesses to tend to; I made a series of choices over the past 20 years to put me in a highly stressful situation that just happens to pay my bills... sometimes. That's called Entrepreneurship, and in tech, that means some days it sucks, some days it doesn't; but i make due in the long run, and it's obviously better than being a preschool teacher or a firefighter -- which is fucking absurd.
But as a group, working-class voters, who outnumber the wealthy (no bullshit, 9,999 to 1), should do something. We should support to help out fellow people and simply eat the cost of doing business. Will shit be more expensive? Probably. But for anyone that went to economics 101 long enough to understand a simple chart... when prices go up, demand plummets, when demand plummets supply chains get disrupted, and the economy implodes.
There will need to be a compromise, and it won't be pretty, all sides will have casualties, but in the end of the fight, hopefully most of us are left standing, and hopefully a bigger percentage of working-class people in the US can support themselves, own a home, and raise a family as a result of trading their literal life for someone else's shareholder's pocket change... It would be pretty awesome if a working class family could become single-income again, or even dual income with just a single job each. It'd be nice if people leaving college had a place to work that could pay them enough to live and
pay off their student loans... which in and of itself is a whole other topic I"m not even going to get started on.