Les Minimumwage

17 Feb


I remember my first job back in 1973 working in a factory in New Jersey. I made 2 dollars an hour which at that time was the minimum wage and at the end of a 40 hour work week I brought home close to 80 dollars. That certainly doesn’t seem like much today but over the 12 weeks of the summer I earned enough money to put myself through a NJ State college.

If I tried to do that today on our current minimum wage of $7.25/hour I would fall about 9 thousand dollars short in tuition and fees at that same school.

But back in 1973 I was working alongside workers who were there working in that factory to make a  living for themselves and their families. Those workers were earning slightly more than I because I was only a summer employee but still their hourly wage was not that much more than mine and I couldn’t help but wonder how they did it…but they did.

This year, In his State of the Union speech, President Obama proposed raising the federal minimum wage to $9 per hour by the end of 2015. That would restore its real value to what it was at the beginning of the Reagan administration in 1981, which, by the way,  in constant dollars, would still be worth less than the 2 dollars per hour that I earned in 1973.

It would also mean that The lowest-paid U.S. workers would continue to lag behind their counterparts in many industrial countries because data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development  show nine nations where the minimum wage is more than $9 per hour.

Australia has the world’s highest minimum wage, at $16.91 an hour. France has boosted its level to $12.68 per hour, while U.K. workers earn at least $9.50 per hour. CNNMoney reports that “there are some developed economies with lower minimum wages than the United States, but not many.”

So my question is simply this:

Do you believe that in what is arguably the wealthiest nation on earth with the world’s largest economy that a worker who spends 40 hours at work each week for 50 weeks per year with 2 weeks of vacation should be able to earn enough money to support his/herself and a child on his/her wages alone, without additional government help in the form of food stamps, housing subsidies etc…

In other words should the minimum wage of the worker described above provide a salary commensurate to the basic costs of housing, health, transportation, utilities, food and childcare within the town, city, country in which he/she lives in the United States of America?

I do believe that it should. Otherwise why do we recommend working?

13 Responses to “Les Minimumwage”

  1. happyzinny February 17, 2013 at 8:37 pm #

    Surprised to learn the minimum wages of France, the U.K., and Australia, in particular. I had no idea we were so far behind. Great post.

  2. trinward February 17, 2013 at 9:09 pm #

    The ‘minimum wage’ is a myth; it is the entry-level rate at which first-time workers (with no experience, no skills, and no record of showing up on time or each day as scheduled) begin to work (in the vast majority of places). Even WalMart, for all its detractors about ‘slave labor’ hires at a better starting-rate, and will still be above that “minimum” if/when the $9 raise occurs.

    Even for entry-level positions, very few people go through life (or even more than a few months in most cases) being paid at that “minimum”; either the employer gives a raise, once the person has shown reliability and responsibility, or the worker goes out and finds a better job, using a good reference from Employer #1. A worker who stays in such a position without either getting that raise or seeking elsewhere is only a fool; in most cases they only reason they do so is to keep “benefits” flowing, if such exist (which is another issue entirely, that should be addressed with true reform of that paradigm to put control into the worker’s hands …).

    Raising the spurious “minimum” only eliminates the first step for new employees to get started, and raises the number of people without any job at all!.

    • brandeesbest.com February 18, 2013 at 1:08 am #

      Many employers pay little as they have to for a warm body to fill the position. Don’t fool yourself into believing that companies paying minimum wage give regular raises; they don’t it’s easier to find another warm body. This is why turnover is high.

  3. RAB February 17, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

    Great post. The minimum wage is the base level. Raising that should raise other low pay rates as well. Putting some money in the pockets of hard-working people who have to SPEND that money is fair and is stimulative. Considering the unbelievable ratio of executive salary to line-worker salary in most workplaces today, the execs can most certainly afford to shift a little money down the line.

  4. hbw February 17, 2013 at 9:47 pm #

    In the UK you would also be entitled to a minimum of 28 days paid annual leave (vacation) (although this would include 5 or 6 public holidays).

  5. A Voice February 17, 2013 at 10:34 pm #

    I will refer, as ever in these cases, back to an earlier comment on the reality that is considered ‘unpatriotic.’

    The difference between the position of workers here and serfs serving feudal lords is that we generally can’t live off of the land. That’s right, compared to Feudalism our situation is worse.

  6. FreeTimeStudio February 18, 2013 at 12:10 am #

    I’m all over the place on thoughts around this one. As a substitute teacher I get to peek into several classrooms, different ages/grades. And I see different attitudes and effort levels. I often aske myself what will happen to thos students who don’t really seem to care about their school work. I worry about the ones who just sit there with a dull look on their faces (who I have learned not to bother with – because I’ve been told they’re “oppostional” and they just make me afraid to walk to my car).

    There are kids who chase me down looking for extra help. And there are kids who fill in the bubbles on their test because they just can’t be bothered. I’m not a social scientist, but my hunch is that the student who cares about his academics is likely going to grow into an adult who earns a decent salary – and by decent I suppose I mean above minimum wage and not using public funds.

    I myself am a college graduate. I divorced my MBA husband and took my three small children. My ex-husband worked the system and over five years has managed to only pay 6 months of child support. After working, myself, for a decade in corporate finance, I was jobless about four years ago… and have yet to find suitable work. SO… YES I went on foodstamps and for a short period did collect welfare. It was humiliating and horrifying, but also humbling. I got an EYEFULL of what’s actually happening in our communities.

    I could go on… but won’t.

    My point, I suppose, is that I don’t think it’s fair to reward the lazies of our country AND THERE ARE TONS… with a higher wage. They’ll just raise the poverty levels and those who are still receiving the lowest wages will still receive government assistance.

    The answer, I’m afraid… is in educating and motivating our youth. WHY CAN’T they get motivated to become PRODUCERS rather than simple consumers of public benefits.

    I’m just the sub. So I can’t do much. But I do see much and frankly, what I see scares the heck out of me, for the future of our country.

  7. Daphne February 18, 2013 at 2:11 am #

    It’s been interesting to watch my husband’s reaction to a lot of this (he’s Canadian). In Canada, he got at least one holiday a month, plus almost 6 weeks of vacation time. I can’t even imagine having 6 weeks of vacation time. And even if I did, how would I have enough money to pay for a vacation 6 weeks long?
    I too saw the article about the various minimum wages in other countries. I wonder what people in other countries think when they see our minimum wage and vacation benefits. I read another article that said illegal immigration has dropped by over 50%. Coincidence?

  8. runningwithellen February 18, 2013 at 3:59 am #

    Reblogged this on RunningWithEllen’s Blog and commented:
    I know I have a few faithful followers, and I hope they will pass this on…

  9. kimmyldavis February 18, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

    Absolutely! Raise it!

  10. Barbara Backer-Gray February 18, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

    I definitely think the minimum wage should go up. It’s completely ridiculous that a person can’t earn enough to keep their family fed, clothed and under a roof. I don’t agree with the argument that raising the minimum wage would only make people lazier or raise the poverty rate. If that were the case, then the poverty rates in countries where the minimum wage is higher should be higher, and everyone should be lazier. That’s not the case. I do agree that it all comes down to education. But how do get youngsters educated when the teachers aren’t educated themselves? No offense, teachers, but a lot of you are very poorly trained and have no general knowledge either. The lady who wrote a reply and who was “just a sub” could write ten times better than most elementary school teachers. That’s a sad state of affairs.
    The other discussion going on is about vacations. Someone asked how they would even be able to afford a six-week vacation. Well, In the Netherlands, you get your regular salary during that time, because your mortgage and bills still have to be paid, even if you’re in Spain, and then you get a “13th month”–85% of a monthly salary to spend on vacation. Or to buy a new washing machine or to remodel the kitchen. But most people go on vacation. At least, this was how it was when I lived there almost 20 years ago, now. And guess what? The Netherlands has one of the highest productivity rates in the world. Because it has been proven that happy people, rested and relaxed and rejuvenated people, are more productive. So the Dutch do more in less work time than Americans do with practically no vacation to speak of.

  11. alesiablogs February 23, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

    WA state is one of few states who has a decent minimum wage. I can not for the like of me know where the incentive to work is if you can not even make enough to pay your normal bills. Something has to change.


  1. Off topic for my blog but made alot of sense so had to share. “Les Minimumwage” « For Helder Or For Worst - February 17, 2013

    […] kind ofLes Minimumwage. […]

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