MSNBC ran a perspective story the other day, which I found compelling. Back in 1950, if you made minimum wage, you would have had to work 56 hours to pay the average rent. Of course, minimum wage was 75 cents an hour, but gas was only 29 cents a gallon and my father bought the house I grew up in for $20,000.
Today, with a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, you will have to work almost double the amount of time–109 hours–to make your rent. Gas is now almost $4 a gallon and the cost of living has exponentially grown beyond predicted levels, with the cost of owning and maintaining your own home having skyrocketed since then.
Right out of college, I waited tables for about a year while I searched for work. I recall making about $2 an hour because our employer was exempt from having to pay us the then-minimum wage of $3.10 because we made tips. Working the lunch shift at the pancake house left me pretty lean financially. It was then it hit me just how much I would have to earn in order to be able to support myself. Talk about a bucket of cold water to the face.
That said, I don’t know how you can make ends meet much less raise a family, making only minimum wage, but apparently, over 76 million Americans do.