Hourly wages are what 75.3 million workers in the United States aged 16 and up were paid last year, according to information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Minimum wage workers tend to be young, according to the BLS information, and now a one-day walkout/strike has been proposed to bring attention to their struggles to work and live on the hourly pay which may or may not help leaders understand the problem of people trying to be responsible contributing members to society and work.
A report from CBSinNY1010 WINS quotes Jonathan Westin, director of Fast Food Forward and the executive director of New York Communities for Change:
“A lot of the workers are living in poverty, you know, not being able to afford to put food on the table or take the train to work.”
Westin’s walkout involves fast food workers in New York as well as six other cities across the country: Chicago; Detroit; Milwaukee; St. Louis; Kansas City; and Flint, Mich.
The one-day strike at several major and well-known fast food businesses includes McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC and Wendy’s were scheduled for today, Monday, on the grounds that worker wages are just too low to live on.
Westin hopes to spur interest and momentum across the country regarding the working poor in the fast food industry.
A sizable portion of minimum wage workers are young, poor adult parents, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, so with talk of walkouts today because of it, who will be watching or caring about their lives?
Perhaps the federal government will provide leadership and not more words. Unfortunately, an entity which has already researched the matter and concluded there is an area of consensus indicating that moderate minimum wage increases will not reduce poverty for the working poor does not bode well for the cause of working poor it seems.
The summary paper from the DHHS:
- A disproportionate share of minimum wage workers are teenagers and most do not live in poor families.
- A sizable portion of minimum wage workers are poor parents.
- Minimum wages curb employer-provided training opportunities for low-wage workers and may reduce educational attainment for some at-risk groups.
- Moderate minimum wage increases will not reduce poverty rates. (My emphasis.)
Since policies for federal minimum wages are researched, developed and evaluated by the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (see website at ASPE), which is”… the principal advisor to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service…” can there be any real hope of more consideration and action towards better pay in jobs for cashiers, cooks, prep staff, delivery workers, etc?
From the website HumanEvents comes a piece on the economy and jobs reports that presidential adviser Dan Pfeiffer sent out a recent mass email announcing that Obama has gotten the message and will refocus his attention on the economy. They quote Pfeiffer:
“The president thinks Washington has largely taken its eye off the ball on the most important issue facing the country.” TheHuman Events writer states:
“Which begs the question: When did he realize that the foremost concerns of the American people in every poll were the economy and jobs? It isn’t as if this could have escaped the White House’s notice. Political pundits, economists and newspaper reporters have been writing about his economic truancy for some time now.”
From the President’s speech last February, a White House blogger attempts to remind readers of the vision:
“America is not a place where the chance of birth or circumstance should decide our destiny. And that’s why we need to build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class for all who are willing to climb them.”
(President Barack Obama, State of the Union, February 12, 2013)