A Case for a Better Minimum Wage
By Maya Lehmann, Case Management Intern
Can you survive off of a minimum wage job in the United States? Perhaps. But can you live off of a minimum wage job in the United States? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Minimum wage is not a living wage, especially when it comes to housing.
Let’s look at the numbers.
According to the Star Tribune, if someone is working a full-time job earning the federal minimum wage, they would not be able to afford to rent a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the United States. This statistic was reported in the 2017 report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Specifically, in Minnesota, the minimum wage is $9.50/hour which adds up to an annual income of $19,760. In order to be able to afford a two bedroom rental home, someone would need to work 78 hours per week at minimum wage.
Let’s think about how this really affects people.
From these numbers, we can conclude that minimum wage increases are not keeping up with housing cost increases. This creates an enormous problem for many people in the United States and directly affects our job seekers here at Daily Work. More than half of the households of our job seekers are living on less than $20,000 annually.
Our goal at Daily Work is not to just get people minimum wage jobs (although this is a great place to start!) Our long-term goal is to help people find jobs that can sustain them and their families over time. Research from Children’s Defense Fund, Minnesota shows that when families can attain an annual income of at least two times the poverty level, the outcomes for their children improve dramatically! By attaining this, they also are able to afford housing that is adequate for their needs and fundamental to their quality of life.
This is why organizations like Daily Work are so important. Daily Work not only helps people find jobs, but continues to work with them even after they have found a job. One of our job seekers, “Lisa,” recently got a job as a dietary aide at a local hospital. This is great for her because hospital jobs offer higher pay and better benefits and opportunities for advancement than many other industries.
The only problem is that most entry-level hospital jobs begin with part-time hours and no benefits. Daily Work will continue to work with her so that she can get more hours or find another job that offers her more hours or higher pay. At Daily Work, we want to help people find more than just a job, we want to help them find an employment path that enables them to achieve their life and financial goals.
This is one example of how your support is working to reduce the inequity that exists in our community. We are extremely grateful for your contributions. You are directly helping our job seekers move out of crisis mode and into sustainable, healthy lives.