Making ends meet isn’t always easy. It’s even harder on a minimum wage budget. I know this to be true because I live paycheck to paycheck. Between rent, utilities, car payments, groceries and any other extraneous needs I have to figure out how to stretch that last penny until I get paid next. It’s no easy task. In fact, it probably tops the list of my biggest worries. As a college student, I have to balance a full course load, while working close to 30 hours just to make sure I can make rent at the start of each month, eat and occasionally have a little fun.
I am lucky, however, to have three paying jobs that I fully enjoy. My motivation isn’t necessarily because I have to, but rather, because I want to. The work I do each day will no doubt prepare me for what might come next. Not to mention the fact, that I certainly have learned the value of a dollar, something I must say isn’t true for all college students.
With that said, though, I couldn’t imagine working for minimum wage for the rest of my life. However, that is the reality for many across this country and was evident by the fast food workers who took a stand this week. As CBS points out the typical fast food worker isn’t some teenager looking for a little extra cash, but rather, “… adults working in low-paying part-time jobs against their wishes.” And their reality is far from ideal. For the nation’s roughly 505,000 fast-food cooks, the typical hourly wage is $9.03. It’s even less for the 2.9 million million food preparation and serving workers, who on average make $9 an hour.
As I pointed out earlier, this amount in no way provides for a life of luxury. In fact, the yearly salary for a fast food worker is nearly $4,500 lower than Census Bureau’s poverty income threshold that sits at $23,000 for a family of four. As a woman explained to CNN, this type of life is all about priorities, “Do I pay my light bill or do I pay my gas. I never can pay it all at once.” That’s a tough question for anyone.
CBS reported, “If current patterns continue, more adults will end up asking if patrons want fries with their meals while not being able to afford to eat where they work.” From that it’s clear that something needs to change. I think that’s the point of the food strikes. Living this life is nearly impossible and someone, specifically our local and federal governments, need to recognize that.