This Labor Day weekend, let’s consider people who make at or little more than minimum wage.
Low-wage workers protested and went on strike at fast-food and retail businesses in Chicago and 50 cities across the country on Thursday. The main Chicago protest was held at the Rock N Roll McDonalds.
Consider that if you make minimum wage in Illinois – $8.25 – that amounts to an annual salary of around $17,000 per year.
The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour and has not increased since 2009.
Also, the minimum wage for tipped workers is $2.13 per hour and it has remained that low since 1991.
Workers are calling for a minimum wage of $15 an hour and their campaign is Fight for 15.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has said he favors raising the state minimum wage to $10 and President Obama in February called for a wage increase to $9 an hour.
Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky gave her support during Thursday protests.
Some argue that raising the minimum wage will hurt business. But it will only hurt the already large profits of many corporations.
Putting more money in the hands of workers will lead to increased spending and help the economy.
Increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by July 2015 would increase GDP by $32.6 billion, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
Until the 1980s, earning minimum wage was enough for a single parent to be above the poverty line.
But today it is not enough.
Of all full-time male workers (including those who make more than minimum wage) in 2012, Latino men earned a median wage of $592 per week, African-American men $665 per week and white men $879 per week, according to figures from the AFL-CIO.
Of all full-time female workers in 2012, Latina women earned $521 per week, African-American women $599 per week and white women $710 per week.
There were 3.6 million workers in the U.S. that made at or below the federal minimum wage in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But there were 46 million people, about 15 percent of the U.S. population, living below the official poverty level in 2011, according the the U.S. Census.
There are more than 10 million “working poor” in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The 2013 federal poverty guideline is $11,490 annually for an individual and $23,550 for a family of four.
That is perilously low. I don’t know who could survive on such low wages.
This Labor Day let’s remember the hard working people in the U.S. who struggle to make ends meet.
They deserve a raise.