Tuesday, May 31, 2011

This Just In! You Can't Live on Minimum Wage in Michigan

A recent Michigan study confirmed what most of us already know: minimum wage isn't enough to get by.

The Basic Economic Security Tables for Michigan, a study that analyzes the cost of essential needs for singles and families across Michigan, found the cost of providing basic necessities -- such as shelter, food and transportation -- far exceeds minimum wage and the paychecks of people working full-time in low-paying job categories.

So there's that.

A bit further down I've posted a Basic Economic Securities Table. I'm going to give away the ending right now, though. The chart suggests that minimum wage should be somewhere between $12.24/hr and $24.49/hr for a person to comfortably purchase the necessities of life.

"The final income tally can be a bit of a sticker shock," said Matt Unrath of Wider Opportunities for Women, the advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., that created the report using public data. "But when you go expense by expense, it makes sense. Whenever I make a presentation on this, families will say, 'Wow, so it's not my fault.' With these incomes, it's nearly impossible to cover the expenses, even if you worked 80 or 90 hours a week."

It's that highlighted section that gets me...the "Wow, so it's not my fault."

Here we are, living our lives, trying to get by, and though we may be working 60+ hours per week it never seems to be enough. And we blame ourselves.

We feel bad about it. Guilty about it. We feel that if we weren't so lazy or lousy with money we'd be able to do this. The car would be in fine working order. The paint on the side of the house wouldn't be chipping off and we could just go pick up some paint to fix it. We'd just go see the dentist...or maybe going to the eye doctor once per decade wouldn't be An Event We Save For. If only we weren't so hideously bad with money. If only we worked harder for longer hours. 60 isn't enough. Maybe 80. Maybe 100.


There's something horribly wrong with a country where a man or woman working full time can't support their family.

I'm not entirely sure how our conservative neighbors and countrymen and women can, with a straight face, reject the notion that an American working full time should make a livable wage. That they'd reject the notion that a person who works full time should be able to feed and support his or her children. And honestly...I believe most agree that a full time worker should be able to make an honest living off of an honest days work. It's the Republican leadership that's fixated on a trickle down system that has worked smashingly for a few, but has failed everybody else.

Jacobs noted that although the state's unemployment rate is dropping, the number of requests for food assistance is climbing because many of the new jobs being created are low-paying.

If you're working full time, you should not have to use food assistance.

Here's a table of what everything costs and what Minimum wage should be:


It's just getting ridiculous.

Michigan's U6 Unemployment rate is still in the 20% range, with a statewide U3 unemployment level of 10.3%. While it's nice to not see dramatic month over month declines in employment anymore, it would be nice to start seeing some job gains.

No comments: