Minimum Wage Workers Work 41 Days for Nothing

Remember a couple of weeks ago when House Speaker Paul Ryan proudly tweeted about a Pennsylvania school secretary who got a $1.50 weekly raise, thanks to the Republican tax cut?

As he later admitted, that’s not a whole lot of money. Full-time minimum wage workers—folks putting in 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year—can buy $2,370 less with their paychecks than in 2009. That was the last year when the federal minimum wage went up – to $7.25-an-hour.

Working an Extra 41 Days for Nothing. For these hard-working, low-paid Americans, March 1 marked an unhappy occasion – 41 weekdays into the New Year. That’s how many extra days they would have had to work last year just to make up for spending power they’ve lost since the last minimum wage increase. (Hat tip to the Center for American Progress for computing this)

Living Wages. Fortunately, as of early 2018, 29 states and the District of Columbia, as well as at least 41 localities, had adopted minimum wages above $7.25. That’s a big reason for the pay increases that President Trump tries to take credit for.

Working Hard for a Living. Working for the minimum wage – or a little more – is a hard life. In Detroit, Cecil Euseary works at Burger King for Michigan’s minimum wage of $8.15 per hour and can only get about 25 hours of work per week. As he explained: “It’s hard. If it weren’t for my godmom—this is her house; I get a room upstairs—if it weren’t for her, I don’t know what… I’d probably be out on the street, in a shelter.”