“Everything goes up but our paychecks": Talking to Real People Who Live on the Minimum Wage

“Everything goes up but our paychecks. We have to live! Before there was middle, low, high class, now there’s either low or high. We have to keep up with the cost of living.”

Those are the words of Teresa, a checkout clerk at Food Emporium in New York City, who makes $11.95 an hour--she's been at the job since 2000, when she began making minimum wage. 

 This summer, we reported that some 73% of the jobs created since the so-called "recovery" began have been low-wage jobs--jobs that pay between $7.51 and $13.52 an hour. The numbers haven't gotten much better since then, either. And people who earn less have less to live on and certainly less to spend on the goods and services that drive the economy. 

In response, some politicians, including New York City's Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, have proposedraising the minimum wage. And some reporters from New York Public Media hit the streets to find out just who in the city was actually still living on seven dollars and change an hour. 

In addition to Teresa, they also found Raima Wachuku at New York Sports Club, who has made $7.25 an hour since 2010. She told them: 

“I don’t make enough to support myself. At this point I’m living on beans and bread. If [the minimum wage] were raised I’d be able to eat better food, I’d be able to get health care, I could finally get glasses.”

Check out the rest of the responses from New York's low-wage workers here.

AlterNet / By Sarah Jaffe

Posted at February 6, 2012, 11:35am

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