The last week I’ve seen a lot of talk on twitter about how fast food workers don’t deserve a $15 dollar minimum wage for “flipping burgers” and need to get a “better” job.
It’s bullshit and I’m here to tell you why.
If you live in America, you pay taxes on everything. Your income, your groceries, your entertainment, and everything in between. If you are making $15 per hour in the city of Los Angeles, you are only making about $950 every two weeks. That’s $1900 a month NET income. When calculating this I didn’t account for health insurance from a job, federal or state allowances.
Rent, Bills, and Everything In-between
When looking to rent an apartment, you have to make 2-3 times your rent. If you to rent an apartment for $1000 and you make only $2400 gross but the next person makes $3500. Guess who gets that apartment?
That means you have to get roommates. You have to depend on another person to be able to live in apartment. Fine. You move in with another person and pay maybe less than $1000. When you do find a roommate, your credit sucks and both of your income just barely covers what the requirements are. Instead of paying one month’s rent and security deposit, you have to pay 2x the rent for security deposit.
Breakdown with Roommate
Net Income – $1900
Rent – $850
Gas, Electric, and Internet- $78
Phone – $60
Groceries – $100
Total – $1078
Remaining – $822
The remaining income looks great right? But what about some key factors like health insurance, transportation, medicine, and the biggest thing of all – DEBT. Savings isn’t a reality if you are living paycheck to paycheck.
To be move into my current apartment, I had to take on another job. I was being tipped at both jobs but for months on end one job was dedicated to saving to move. Then after moving that job paid my rent and bills while the other was to just live and pay my minimum payments.
The past jobs I’ve had also tipped me. Making $12-13 per hour plus tips was great but then came the days where my job would up and give me 24 hours instead of a full forty hours. This has a happened a lot in my time. My paperwork says full time, then why am I getting less than 40? Full time hours for hourly workers should be a law that it will always be between 37-40 hours and nothing less. 30 hours is a part time job.
I’ve based a good chunk of this information on the fact that I am a single, abled bodied woman living in Los Angeles. But what if I was disabled, had children or ill but able to work? Expenses are higher. The cost child care is high and would probably cost most people $600-1500 a month per child. We do have a lot of government funded programs but they come with strings attached to it. It creates a stagnate cycle.
Personally, I would like to have 4 children with a spouse or two on my own. Given that I want at least 2 children, I would have to make at least $100k per year. That’s primarily just because of child care and insurance for two children.
Get a “Better” Job
I graduated in December 2015. I didn’t get my first salaried job until March 2019. It’s not because I wasn’t trying. I was. I applied to office jobs prior to graduation. I took on another part time job supplement the income to save to move to LA or NYC. I studied Media Studies and Production. I knew I wanted to work in the offices of NBC. I applied to production assistant gigs for Jerry Springer and the Maury Show. I was dead set to live in the Bronx and commute the hour to Connecticut or move to Los Angeles, a city I didn’t want to live in until I visited October 2016.
I moved here and it took me 2 years to find an office gig. I was being far from picky. I have a lot of interests. I like doing accounting, writing, organizing, and plethora of other things. I love social media, food, and making random videos and graphics.
But that doesn’t get me a job. No one sees that through a resume that says Barista for 4 years. Most people just see coffee and nothing else.
When you want to do better but are faced with setbacks out of your control, it’s hard to be able to just get a better job. I know people who can’t just simply get a better job. It takes time and a lot of effort. If you don’t know a someone at some major company where you be an assistant at. Nothing is harder than trying to propel yourself into a career that no one on your social-economic level works or lives in. It’s all in who you know, right?
The Federal Minimum Wage
The Federal Minimum wage was raised when I was 19. I am currently a decade older, wiser, and making more. I have grown in so many ways but yet income hasn’t change but rent is keep getting higher and people are being priced out. If you don’t know Federal Minimum wage is $7.25. Yup, you can get a latte for that price or a grab a Lyft to work with SEVEN DOLLARS and TWENTY FIVE CENTS! It’s been like this for A DECADE. I remember my checks being about $80-90 bucks per week after taxes.
I’ve personal thought about buying apartment buildings that would make money and in return buying bigger properties that I can rent out at 30% of a person’s net income. There should be a law against hiring someone less then 38-40 hours a week. Cutting hours shouldn’t be the answer when wages go up. But also, $15 per hour ain’t shit.
I hope you found this informative and I could have delved deeper, and I do want to but this feels like a good start to it. I love good debate.
To the people who think a person should be able to live a stable life without worrying about the next emergency and being to save money: Duck OFF!