Thursday, October 15, 2015

Paychecks not keeping up with cost of living

How much does it take to make ends meet? A helluva lot more than a worker can earn from a minimum wage job, according to a new report from the Alliance for a Just Society.

While the wage floor varies from state to state, the document shows that a single adult needs way more than such a salary to pay for life's essentials. The amount ranges from $14.26 an hour in Arkansas to $21.86 an hour in Washington, D.C. Given the different minimum wage rates across the country, minimum wage workers would have to work 110.7 hours a week in Hawaii to make a living wage, while Virginia workers would have to work 103.2 hours, tops in the country.

Jill Reese, associate director of the Alliance for a Just Society, said the numbers show the losing battle everyday Americans find themselves in, especially those trying to support a family:
A wage that keeps families trapped in poverty and despair, no matter how many hours they work, is a national crisis. We know that it's not unheard of in our country that someone is working full time and is still homeless -- this is unacceptable.
While there has been a push to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour across the country, the reality is that is not even enough in many places. In fact, the report finds that in 35 states and the District of Columbia, such a salary would not provide a living wage. Nationally, the living wage for a single adult is $16.87 an hour according to the paper.

Respect and dignity are sorely lacking in the workplace. Low-wage jobs are soaring, while those that support a family are harder to find. Such a reality not only hurts workers, it hurts the American economy at large.

That's why the Teamsters put forth its "Let's Get America Working" platform last month. Union jobs are better paying jobs with good benefits and provide for retirement. Organizing will increase the number available, but won't solve all the nation's problems.

Lawmakers and the private sector need to remember the plight of hardworking Americans. It's in all of our best interests.