The truth about low-wage workers

President Obama wants to raise the minimum wage by $1.75 to $9 per hour. Who might benefit? 

Last week, employees at fast food restaurants went on strike, pushing for a living wage. On top of that, President Obama has stated that he hopes to reduce the income gap between the richest and poorest Americans in his last few years in office. One way he hopes to achieve that goal is by raising the minimum wage and making sure it keeps up with inflation.

This summer, the Economic Policy Institute analyzed who exactly would benefit, and they found that the average low-wage worker holds down at least one full-time job, and most are women. Over 1/4 have children, and over 1/3 are over 40 years old.

Raising the minimum wage could help reduce the number of the “working poor–” people with jobs who still can’t make ends meet. And if we can ease their struggle, fewer Americans would be forced to rely on food assistance programs such as SNAP.

From the Economic Policy Institute’s report:

  • The average age of affected workers is 35 years old;
  • 88 percent of all affected workers are at least 20 years old;
  • 35.5 percent are at least 40 years old;
  • 56 percent are women;
  • 28 percent have children;
  • 55 percent work full-time (35 hours per week or more);
  • 44 percent have at least some college experience.

Latoia Caldwell is a perfect example. She was profiled by MSNBC.

 A mother of four, she has spent six years working at Wendy’s full-time. Yet she and her four children spent an entire year living in a homeless shelter, and have only recently found housing elsewhere. Following two years of employment at one Wendy’s in particular, Caldwell still makes $7.35, Missouri’s legal minimum wage.

About Holly

Holly Jensen is a writer and poet who has worked with nonprofits and businesses for over a decade. She also serves as editor of The Ghazal Page, an international literary journal.
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