We can’t build a strong economy on a weak base

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Let’s bring the spirit of Christmas to Congress. The last time the minimum wage went up was in 2009, and, as the owner of a Christmas tree farm and other businesses, I think it’s time for another raise.

Today’s $7.25 an hour minimum wage befits Scrooge—before he saw the error of his ways. It amounts to just $15,080 a year for full-time workers.

Workers shouldn’t have to depend on food stamps or food banks to put Christmas Dinner on their tables.

In my state, Louisiana, which is not a high-cost state, a single adult needed income of $19,256 to afford basic expenses such as food, housing, transportation, health care and taxes in 2012, according to the MIT Living Wage Calculator. That’s $9.26 an hour at 40 hours a week year-round, which is $2 more an hour than the current minimum wage.

McDonald’s made waves this year by recommending a sample monthly budget to its employees— many of them earning at or near minimum wage—that assumed they needed a second job to make ends meet. Most McDonald’s employees, like most minimum-wage workers, are adults. The budget had them working at McDonald’s for $1,105 a month after taxes, and then a second job for $955—for a total of $24,720 yearly after taxes. McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson, meanwhile, made $13.8 million in 2012. That’s $37,808 a day, every day of the year.

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