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minimum wage my toosh by vega
Started on: 05-13-2006 11:33 PM
Replies: 126
Last post by: jstricker on 05-26-2006 10:17 PM
JazzMan
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Report this Post05-25-2006 06:58 PM Click Here to See the Profile for JazzManClick Here to Email JazzManSend a Private Message to JazzManDirect Link to This Post
Here's a chart showing my income deflation. I just figured this out the other day, and I'm fuming. I wondered why it was getting so much tougher to make ends meet.



The 10% mark represents what I think I should be at considering my eight years of service and the valuable experience and knowledge that I've gained during that time.

Anyone wanna bet that there are millions of workers in the same boat of stagnant or declining real income that I am?

JazzMan
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jstricker
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Report this Post05-25-2006 07:28 PM Click Here to See the Profile for jstrickerClick Here to Email jstrickerSend a Private Message to jstrickerDirect Link to This Post
That's our point, we have. At least I have. I don't have to anymore so I'm not going to.

As for your wife, before she gets TOO mad, here is the original question once again and keep in mind it was posed by a young, single male

 
quote
Originally posted by vega:
Now this is my proposed goal lets come up with a list- (MN area seeing this can be sorta area specific)
of logical amount for one to live upon. Now there is food of coruse then there is car insurance- and gas as well. Then there is rent - and utilities- and cable weather it be tv or internet or a mix. Ect. what does the bare minimume REALLY add up to? 1000? 1200? how much a month.


Nobody's talking about feeding, clothing, schooling, etc. a family of four. That hasn't been the discussion. Read the question again then put the anger away for a moment and think it through. You are a young, single person working at a minimum wage job. In Washington, that's about $7.50/hour, 40 hour weeks, 52 weeks per year. That totals about $1300/mo. Taxes and other mandatory witholdings out of that will not amount to more than about $200 so that's a net of about $1,100 per month.

Decent health insurance for a male that age is going to cost about $100/month. Maybe a little more, maybe a little less, but that's going to be close. At least that's what it would cost ME to insure an early 20's something single male through my insurance. Now we're down to $1,000/mo.

Groceries for one person if they shop wisely should not cost more than $100/mo, but let's say it's $150/mo so we're down to $850. Car insurance on a Fiero type car will depend on driving record but if you have a good record no more than $400/year so that's about $35/mo. Figure 25 mpg and 300 miles per month (let's not get into that again, of course it will vary) will be about $35/mo. Add another $25/mo for routine maintenance (oil changes, etc.). Clothing, I don't spend $500/year on clothes and I'm hard on them but it's mostly jeans and T's, but that's about $40/mo. Since you're probably going to be renting you need renters insurance for your stuff (not required, but wise to have) for another $30 or so per month.

Add all this stuff up and we have $315 including the food so we're down to about $685/mo to pay for a place to live and utilities. Phone should not cost more than $25/mo. I don't know what the utilities are like out there, but I know what it costs here and you can definitely pay your gas/electric/sewer/trash/etc. for $150/mo. So we're down to about $500/month left to find a place to live. Most likely, if you're working minimum wage, you're either living with your parents or a room mate so the two of you should have about $1,000 left to spend on an apartment and as I've posted in the past, you can find some apartments in the Seattle area, at least, for $600 or $300 apiece.

Now I grant you that's not any cushion or margin for the inevitable things that come and bite you in the butt. But that's not the question. Again, the question is "what does the bare minimume REALLY add up to?" (sic)

Don't confuse running the numbers and making a determination to be lacking in empathy. Don and I have both BTDT and we're not saying it's easy, fun, or that's how we want anyone to live. What I'm saying is that it's POSSIBLE to live, nothing more.

I've looked over your list, and Don's as well. It appears that the prices for NECESSITIES isn't that widely variable from KS, to TX, to WA, at least to me. Basic foods are all about the same. Mine are actually higher, but remember that some of the ones I listed are for name brands, like Minute Maid. That I had to take from the paper because I really don't drink juice in the mornings, too much acid to go with my coffee. Folger's coffee isn't cheap either. Many of the other things like the hamburger are the higher priced varieties because, to be honest, I don't buy my meat that way, I get a calf and hog butchered and put it in the freezer, so I don't shop for meat like many people do, but I priced it across the meat counter from ads so they are actually, probably, a little on the high side.

I printed out Don's list and you guys' and have them in front of me side by side with mine. They are surprisingly close.

I actually thought about putting them in a spreadsheet and figuring the variance on them, and if we get more people to compare prices with I will, but for just the three sets of numbers it's not very meaningful, BUT:

Campbells soup, 79 to 55 cents per can. Mine was cheapest but I doubt the other two bought them on a "3 for" sale like I did on my receipt
Sugar, 1.88 to .88 cents per bag, with yours the cheapest (must have been a good sale)
Milk all within pennies per gallon
Eggs, same thing per dozen
Hamburger, you wer cheapest again by 50 cents per lb, again must have been a good sale

I can go on, but the prices you guys are paying are either cheaper (probably because as your wife pointed out, she's a very good shopper as opposed to being just a buyer) or within pennies of the things on the list.

We've had people move here to the country from Denver, KC, and other metro areas and the common complaint is that "groceries and stuff are pretty expensive out here" and they are, because we don't have NEARLY the competition in our area. We have Dillons (Krogers), a couple of Food 4 Less (and one of them recently closed), Wal Mart super centers, and then smaller town grocers. The small town grocers are more expensive because they don't do the volume, but their meat and produce is generally better.

So far, I don't see that the NECESSITIES of life are any more expensive there than here in KS or TX. If you have any specific examples in mind, then we should add them to the list and compare those prices as well (not including rent, which we all realize IS most definitely more expensive in your area and other areas).

If the discussion offended you or your wife, it wasn't meant to. Nobody is disrespecting you guys or saying that minimum wage is enough for a family of four to be satisfied with or even be able to exist on, that's not the discussion and that's a point we all agree on. This is a good discussion, I hear over and over again that some areas are just SOOO expensive and I've wondered in what way? (other than housing) Maybe I'll find out.

John Stricker
 
quote
Originally posted by GDS-1:

ok, if you guys are so adamant in your views, time to put your money where your mouth is:

Make up your list...and live off of it for SIX months.

P.S. To be honest when my wife saw this thread and she got hot! Matter of fact here she is:
I don't see how anyone can say that they can live off minimum wage and support a family of 4, with no help from the state, family, friends, etc.....
By no means are we living extravagantly....matter of fact most of the time we spend less on certain things than even the State says is minimum. Example: I spend typically $200 a month on groceries to feed 2 adults and 2 growing boys, yet the State of Washington says the amount a family of 4 should be using for groceries each month is $476.
Thes apts that were listed earlier in the thread...just because as ad sounds nice, doesn't mean it is. If you aren't from here or hell even from Seattle, you have no clue what things go for or what condition thigns are in. Ever hear of deceptive advertising? One of the ads that was posted was for a studio apt including kitchen and bathroom, it was 200 square feet. Now I don't know about you but I can't see raising my family in 200 sq ft. That is about the size of my living room. The 800 sq ft apartment we used to live in, surrounded by druggies, shootings, cop calls and the likes now rents for almost $600 a month, no amenities.
YOu see it as work ethic, I see it as doing what is necessary to provide for family. Yes, my husband has a decent job and we live alright but that's it. He drives 58 miles day so we can live "alright". And honestly, it wasn't really a choice...I mean yeah, he could have chose not to take the job and we could try to live off the system but really, that just isn't an option either one of us wanted to take. I provide childcare right now to help make ends meet as well as do occasional work for my dad's maintenance business. Even then, things are tight and not always by choice. My kids go without alot, and I am not talking toys and candy...I'm talking waiting to get that new pair of shoes, walking around in old jeans because we just can't get new ones right now.....
I'll break it down for you...minimum wage aftrer taxes for a month would be $1074.30, providing you work 40 hours. Let's use the ratty apt we used to live in as example: $600 for rent leaves 474.30. Average $70 for electricity leaves 404.30. Then you have the the $150 a month for laundry since the apts have no w/d for free, that leave 254.30. Basic phone is about $30 so that's 224.30. Basic cable just to have some sort of picture is another $30 so that leaves 194.30. Let's figure $20 a week for gas as the bus doesn't run early enough for my husband to take it to work so that's 114.30 left. Now, let's go get those $200 worth of groceries for the month and I am now in the hole 85.70. I haven't paid car insurance, bought toiletries or put gas in my car.

Just something to think about....


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jstricker
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Report this Post05-25-2006 07:54 PM Click Here to See the Profile for jstrickerClick Here to Email jstrickerSend a Private Message to jstrickerDirect Link to This Post
Jazzman,

In your honest opinion, do you feel like your lack of financial advancement is due to the general economy (I don't know what you do for a living) or something that is specific to your employer? IOW, is your employer taking advantage of you or are you just another one of millions that are in this boat due to the general economy?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics from last April, 2005 until April of 2006, average hourly earnings have increased from $16.00 to $16.61 per hour.

 
quote

Hourly and Weekly Earnings (Establishment Survey Data)

Average hourly earnings of production or nonsupervisory workers on private
nonfarm payrolls increased by 9 cents in April to $16.61, seasonally adjusted.
This followed gains of 5 cents in March and 7 cents in February. Average week-
ly earnings increased by 0.8 percent in April to $563.08. Over the year, aver-
age hourly earnings increased by 3.8 percent and average weekly earnings in-
creased by 4.1 percent. (See table B-3.)


That's an increase of 3.8 % which is slightly higher than inflation. Your chart shows you are well below inflation in pay when a year ago, you were right at holding the inflation line, now you're chart indicates you are 5% below inflation with an inflation rate of 3.7%, meaning you took an almost 9% paycut? How can you consider that to be "typical". Most American workers did not take a paycut last year.

Your chart goes back to 1998 so I did a lookup on BLS to see what has happened to average hourly earnings in that time.
In May of 1998 the average hourly wage was $12.95/hr. It is now $16.61/hr. That's an increase of $3.66/hr. That's an increase of 28.3% while inflation during that same time span totaled 24%. So on average, the hourly worker gained about 4% over and above the CPI.

John Stricker
 
quote
Originally posted by JazzMan:

Here's a chart showing my income deflation. I just figured this out the other day, and I'm fuming. I wondered why it was getting so much tougher to make ends meet.

The 10% mark represents what I think I should be at considering my eight years of service and the valuable experience and knowledge that I've gained during that time.

Anyone wanna bet that there are millions of workers in the same boat of stagnant or declining real income that I am?

JazzMan


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JazzMan
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Report this Post05-26-2006 01:44 PM Click Here to See the Profile for JazzManClick Here to Email JazzManSend a Private Message to JazzManDirect Link to This Post
The chart is low resolution, I drew it in AutoCad (which is what I do for a living, detailing structural steel forms for casting in the prestress/precast industry). In actuality I've been below inflation since early 2003, the lst two raises didn't get me up to inflation at all. Also, I estimated the ends of my wage line because I couldn't find a good month by month inflation record anywhere in the time I have on the internet now, normally less than an hour a day.

I make below the average hourly rate you posted now, and figure by the end of the year I'll need over a dollar increase just to get back to inflation. Since that's a bigger raise than I've ever gotten, I doubt I'll get one. My company is going gangbusters right now, we've got more business than I've see since I started. Several precast plants along the coast got wiped out by Katrina so we're basically building forms for new plants all over the place.

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Report this Post05-26-2006 02:27 PM Click Here to See the Profile for avengador1Click Here to Email avengador1Send a Private Message to avengador1Direct Link to This Post
Couldn't you just ask for a raise? Before our family business came into existance I used to work for other companies. Every time money got tight I would talk with my bosses and explain my situation to them and ask for a raise. I usually got one. The worst that can happen is that they turn you down, but they will know you are having difficulties and this will eat at them till the time for your next raise comes along.
Now that the shoe is on the other foot, if an employee has this talk with us, and he is considered a valuable asset, we are willing to negotiate with them to see what will satisfy them. It is cheaper to make them happy than to have to replace them and retrain a new employee. All of our employees get yearly raises and bonuses twice a year. We also start them above minimum wage and in CT the state minimum wage is above the Federal Minimum wage.
The bottom line is those who ask will receive, give it a try.
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Report this Post05-26-2006 05:16 PM Click Here to See the Profile for frontal lobeClick Here to Email frontal lobeSend a Private Message to frontal lobeDirect Link to This Post
Nobody said you can only work 40 hours per week, either. The 40 hour work week is a cultural thing. It isn't a restriction.

And you don't have to only work at one minimum wage job, either.

If I was in that situation and I cared, I would try to get 1 full-time job and then another for 15-20 hours per week.

"Oh, that's easy for you to say. You are a rich doctor." Yeah, yeah, I know. But I wasn't BORN one. I worked FIFTY hours per week DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR in high school starting at age 16. Minimum wage initially. Not much more by age 18.

If you want extra stuff in life, work extra (in our culture, that is more than 40) hours. I lived in dumps in college because the rent was less. Kind of embarrassing, but embarrassment cost less. I lived with my sister and her husband for 3 years of medical school. Kind of inhibiting to life-style, but life-style inhibition costs less.

I've worked weekends. I've worked night shift. I've worked more than 60 hours per week. I've worked while in high school and college.

There are a lot of things I wouldn't like about minimum wage job living, but I would still be able to have MANY things in life beyond necessities.
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jstricker
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Report this Post05-26-2006 10:17 PM Click Here to See the Profile for jstrickerClick Here to Email jstrickerSend a Private Message to jstrickerDirect Link to This Post
Jazz,

Yeah, I saw that you've been behind the inflation curve since '03 and had just enough of a raise a couple of times to ALMOST get you back even. I think I understand how you're now 5% below inflation without a paycut, you started the year below and have been losing ground ever since (at least that's what I think I see). There is CPI monthly data on the BLS site, I'll see if I can find it and link it for you. I know you have limited time to play on the "internets".

Back when we were discussing what should and should not be included in figuring how much inflation affected a minimum wage worker, I found This BLS page and it's been a great source of information. For instance, I pay about 7 cents per kwh for electricity, or about 35 cents per 5 kwh. The national average price is now about 57 cents per 5 kwh or 11 cents per kwh. My electricity is 38% cheaper than the national average (and no, it's not an electric co-op, just a really well run customer owned company). This Page may provide you with the monthly information you want and you can even look at it area specific. Scroll down a bit and look for "Prices and CPI" or something like that. It's not far down the page.

You might even poke around there and find more accurate average hourly wages for your specific area. I'd be pretty certain that the wages in the DFW area probably aren't as high as those in NYC or the Seattle area, just so you have a little more information.

I have to agree with avengador1 and his post. If you like your job and the company, and you feel like you're a valued employee and are getting those vibes back from your superiors, I'd do my homework and go talk to them. Tell them "Look, I love my job (if you do), I want to work here, but when you consider inflation I'm making less than when I started and to be honest, although I'd hate to do it, I'm going to have to find other options to survive." Show them your data. If they ask what other options, I wouldn't threaten them with quitting, rather I'd tell them I'm going to have to look for a second job or some way to supplement my income and THAT might impact how I do my job. If you really don't care what they say, and they ask, tell them you're open to offers from other companies, but I suspect you want to be a little more diplomatic than that because other than feeling you're not being fairly compensated, I don't get the impression you don't like your job. One thing though, go in to the talk with a reasonable offer in your head of what you think is fair for you and them because in a meeting like this they may very well say "Well, James, what do you feel would be fair?" Somehow I get the feeling that "Idunno" probably wouldn't be the best answer.

I'll bet if you go in and talk to them and explain the situation, you might be pleasantly surprised at their response. I have worked at a place where nobody EVER got a raise unless they asked and after I quit, I asked the owner about that and he said "If an employee doesn't feel like he's worth enough more money to come and talk to me, who am I to argue with him?". I don't really agree with that philosophy, but I do see his point.

Good luck.

John Stricker
 
quote
Originally posted by JazzMan:

The chart is low resolution, I drew it in AutoCad (which is what I do for a living, detailing structural steel forms for casting in the prestress/precast industry). In actuality I've been below inflation since early 2003, the lst two raises didn't get me up to inflation at all. Also, I estimated the ends of my wage line because I couldn't find a good month by month inflation record anywhere in the time I have on the internet now, normally less than an hour a day.

I make below the average hourly rate you posted now, and figure by the end of the year I'll need over a dollar increase just to get back to inflation. Since that's a bigger raise than I've ever gotten, I doubt I'll get one. My company is going gangbusters right now, we've got more business than I've see since I started. Several precast plants along the coast got wiped out by Katrina so we're basically building forms for new plants all over the place.

JazzMan

[This message has been edited by jstricker (edited 05-26-2006).]

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