I have always said anyone working full time in this country and living within the means of those wages earned should not have to take on a second job to sustain the basic necessities of everyday life. Those necessities being food, clothing, housing, and when needed, healthcare. There certainly should not be two people working full-time and living out of one of the many shelters across the nation.
When I make this observation, I exclude those that forgo responsible family planning, those grappling with substance and alcohol abuse and those lacking a willingness to practice financial responsibility.
However, the stark reality of the status qou is there are thousands of people across America working full time at meager and minimum wages whom can’t obtain housing, eat properly daily, or access affordable healthcare. Something is wrong with that picture.
Billion dollar corporations with trickle down hourly wages are being called out more and more by their struggling employees to increase their baseline hourly wage. As of the date of this article, response from the corporations have been lackluster.
Strikes, walkouts, and grassroots efforts have gotten the attention of the nation but has done little to loosen the pay coffers of most corporations. The nation watches video clips, and hears the sound bytes and then its back to business as usual for those with idyllic means that tends to callous the plight of those working for minimum wage.
Sometimes in order to understand what a person is going through, one has to walk in their shoes. Maybe if more people actually experienced a week on minimum wage, more voices and energy would join the crusade for a livable wage in America.
More people should experience The Live the Wage Challenge.
The Live the Wage Challenge asks elected officials, community leaders, advocates and everyday citizens to walk in the shoes of a person who earns minimum wage by living on a minimum wage budget—$77—for one week. The weekly budget of $77 represents the weekly wages of a full-time worker making the federal minimum wage, minus average taxes and average housing expenses. Your weekly budget includes all your meals, groceries, transportation, and recreational spending. (It does not include long-term and inflexible expenses like loan, car, mortgage, or rent payments, child care, health care, etc).
Those that take the challenge quickly find $77 is not a lot of money. Most taking the challenge go over budget or run out of money about four days into the week.
Workers who make the minimum wage have little, if any, leeway in how they spend their money each month. The Challenge gives a glimpse into just how little the minimum wage provides. It is not enough to live on—much less enough to invest back into the community. The point of the exercise is to highlight the critical need to raise the federal minimum wage. Even those that manage to make it through the week on $77 find drastic changes in choices and a plethora of discretionary denials were necessary to make it.
The challenge brings into focus the fact that an increase in the minimum wage alone would result in almost 30 million people receiving a raise.
Thursday, July 24th until Wednesday, July 30th. Invite your friends, your neighbors, your congregation, your co-workers to take the Live The Wage Challenge. If you take part, be sure to chronicle the whole experience on social media using the hash tag #LiveTheWage. Also share your experiences right here in the comment section below. The more participants share their experiences with others, the bigger the impact it will have on the national conversation around the minimum wage.
Some members of Congress take the Live The Wage Challenge.
Since he began his minimum wage challenge on Sunday, former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, now president of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, has had eggs and toast, a bowl of cereal with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and a banana. On Monday, he came to work with a bologna and cheese sandwich and a banana. “I’m not sure what I’m going to have for supper,” he told ThinkProgress.