Here's why minimum wage jobs lead to a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad life:
- You can’t afford anything, ever. Contrary to whatever nonsense the restaurant industry is pushing out, three-quarters of minimum wage earners are adults – and 68.5 percent of those wage workers work full-time. These terrible jobs aren’t used as fun money for carefree teens. Instead, most people try to pay for food and rent with their money -- but don’t pay enough to actually afford living. Even a worker who works a full 40 hours every week with no vacations or sick leave brings home a yearly salary of $15,080, That's so little money the IRS doesn’t even require you to file if you provide for a two-person household. That’s right. Minimum wage workers are so broke, the IRS doesn’t even want their money.
- You can either live with relatives or in a car. Every year, the National Low Income Housing Coalition reports that full-time minimum wage workers can’t afford a two-bedroom apartment in any state. Even working 70 hours a week, a worker can only reasonably afford a two-bedroom apartment in four states and Puerto Rico. Over half of the states require seven 12-hour days just to maintain affordable housing at minimum wage. Even split between two minimum wage workers at 45 hours a week, 17 states are too expensive to live in.
- Your healthcare plan consists of hoping you don’t get sick. In 2012, a Gallup poll found that low-income families are 20 percent more likely to not have health insurance or a doctor. Almost 40 percent say they struggle to afford healthcare or medicine. No matter how little adults without children (three-quarters of minimum wage earners) make, they cannot enroll in federal Medicaid. The Affordable Care Act plans to expand Medicare in 2014 to people making $14,500 or less. Although this is a great step in expanding healthcare, it still means that people will have to start choosing between having enough money for rent or not enough money to qualify for Medicare. Making that choice is probably why people living in poverty suffer from depression at twice the rates of higher paid workers. It’s okay though – minimum wage workers won’t be able to afford a therapist to diagnose them anyway.
- You are literally poorer than anyone else (since 1968). The real cost of minimum wage has been decreasing since 1968. If wages rose with inflation, the federal minimum wage would be $10.56 per hour. In other words, when your parents flipped burgers at McDonalds, they were able to get 30 percent more for their money – and probably did less than half the work. But it’s not only you; all workers are suffering from wages depressed by inflation costs.