Friday, January 16, 2009

The minimum wage - is it enough?

When I was born in 1968, the minimum wage was $1.68. Doesn’t seem like much, but its value in today’s dollar is equal to $10.26! At my first job as a housekeeper at a hotel, I earned the minimum wage. I was still in high school, but I maintained this job on weekends and throughout the summers in order to save for college and pay for gas. This was in 1985 and the minimum wage was $3.35. At the time, the purchasing power of my hourly wage was the equivalence of $6.61 today, which is on par with the current Federal minimum wage of $6.55. Since the time of my birth to my first job, the purchasing power of working Americans has decreased significantly, but since the time of my first job, another 20 years has passed and the value of the minimum wage has basically remained unchanged.

Let’s do more math. (C'mon, it's not so bad!) A full-time worker making $6.55 an hour takes in $262 a week, before taxes - for an annual salary of $13,000! Let me type that again - $13,000!!!!!! Add to this that the majority of minimum wage earners do not have access to healthcare benefits at work, or even paid sick days. The sad fact remains that a large percentage of minimum wage workers are no longer teenagers at their first job, but are heads of households, many of them single mothers. Kind of makes you wonder how, on one hand, we can see so much progress within our nation, and on the other, we are frozen in time, if not moving backwards. How do you feel about this?

Share with us your first job, first hourly wage, and what you think the minimum wage should be at this point in time for a working member of society to take care of herself and a family?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i worked the lotto machine in a grocery store at age 14 (1986) for $5/hour. the 26 year old stock boy made the same hourly wage as me. the minimum wage should be $10/hour and should include family health coverage.