Women 60 % of minimum wage earners
I was waiting at the supermarket for a short, overweight woman wearing tight blue pedal-pushers to self-bag a mountain of groceries.
The cashier, a woman in her mid-30s with pulled back hair and dark eye makeup, could not ring up my groceries until there was room on the counter.
“Why is it so busy?” I asked.
“It’s the first of the month. Food stamps,” said the cashier..
I noticed her eye makeup had migrated below her eyes forming a shadow. She was tired.
“Have you been going at this fevered pace all day?” I asked.
“Yeah and this is my second job,” she said. “I’ll put in sixteen hours today.”
Suddenly she brightened. “But I am looking forward to taking a week’s vacation in ten days – from one job, anyway. It’s the first vacation I’ve had in years. I’ll find out what it feels like to do nothing again.”
Since when is having only one job a vacation?
The U.S. Department of Labor is engaged in a “myth busting” informational campaign regarding increasing the federal minimum wage – which is now $7.25 an hour.
Most people think that it is mostly teenagers who earn the mininim wage. That’s wrong.
A cashier who works 16 hours a day and considers having just one job a “vacation” is more representative of the minimum wage worker than a high school student earning pocket change.
According to DOL, 60 percent of those earning the minimum wage are women – fewer than 20 percent are teenagers. And minimum wage workers brought home 46 percent of their household’s wage and salary income in 2011.
The minimum wage has not increased since 2009 and it has declined by 7.3 percent in buying power.
Hardworking Americans earning the minimum wage cannot afford to buy basic necessities and support a family – never mind health benefits and a pension. Many Americans are working multiple jobs just to keep out of poverty.
There is a lot of ignorance about the impact of raising the minimum wage. The DOL and the Economic Policy Institute say that raising the minimum wage does not hurt small business or economic growth. Check out the following DOL graphic: