The Right to Work & Earn a Living Wage
by Beth Lanford, Northside P.O.W.E.R. Chair
There are many pieces of a just economy. The right to work and earn a living wage is one important component of a just economy.
But what is a living wage? Is the federal minimum wage enough to live on? The current U.S. minimum wage is $7.25 / hour or $15,000 a year. That averages out to $1,250 a month. Per the 2012 census figures, that is just above the poverty level.
In Illinois the minimum wage is $8.25 / hour or $17,100 a year. That brings the before tax income to about $1,420 a month. Not a heck of a lot to live on; add to that the lack of affordable housing. Conclusion: the minimum wage fails is NOT a living wage!
If working one job full-time minimum wage job is not enough to make ends meet, how about adding a second, part-time job? Or how about combining two or three part time jobs? Now a single person may have enough money to make ends meet.
But what if we add children into the picture? The amount of money needed to survive has just increased, and continues to increase as the number of children increase. Other variables include whether it is a one or two parent / adult household. Are they both working, and how many hours a day or week?
According to Bread for the World, 4.5 percent of U.S. households struggle to put enough food on the table. More than 48 million Americans—including 16.2 million children—live in these households. Conclusion: the United States does not have a just economy.
What is the impact of an unjust economy? There are many, but the effects of poverty and injustice have a profound impact on our children’s future. Without proper and consistent parental care, it is difficult to make sure homework is done. It is difficult for parents to actively participate in their children’s school activities, and interact with the teachers.
Without a good education, without an opportunity to go to college or a trade school, the cycle of poverty persists and the 1% continues to win. As a member of the 99%, I refuse to give up. CHANGE MUST HAPPEN! To be part of this, join us on June 10th, as people from Illinois and Indiana gather at St Mark’s United Methodist Church at 8441 S St Lawrence Avenue at 2:30 p.m. to present the Covenant for Economic Justice.