A few weeks ago, CAP’s Half in Ten project challenged it’s readers to Live the Wage. For one week, try living on $77-the average take-home pay of an individual who works full-time and earns minimum wage.
I knew I would be unsuccessful at Living the Wage, but I was surprised by how spectacularly I failed. $77 flies by. I had already purchased groceries (thank goodness for CA’s cheap produce) and I have a pretty cheap commute. Still, the $77 was gone before the week was up. For a one week challenge, that’s fine, but what about the 16.5 million people working full-time on $77 a week? Who are trying to support a family? And children and grandchildren?
There’s a certain gimmick element to the Live the Wage campaign-even calling it a campaign-that makes me uncomfortable. It is a privilege to do it as a challenge, however, this is reality for millions of families. Governor Strickland wrote about it a few weeks ago, and he highlights the importance of raising the wage to help millions who live in poverty. Millions who are working in full-time jobs, are working in poverty.
There’s so many layers to helping end poverty for families in our community, but when someone is working, it only seems reasonable that they are paid a salary that offers a life of dignity and health. That kind of a life is becoming increasingly more expensive, and as that happens, and many, many businesses large and small reap benefits, shouldn’t those who are working to drive these businesses be able to live in dignity and comfort?