If getting what you pay for holds any merit, the same would have to be said for the quality of labor in relation to minimum wage earners. Many people do not give much if any thought to this part of the population.
Chances are excellent that you dont even know anyone who is a minimum wage earner; if you do, they are most likely to be kids working part-time jobs during their school years. But they are out there, nonetheless, and in numbers. So why dont we take a look at the minimum wage?
The federal minimum wage is $5.15 an hour. Based on an eight-hour workday, thats just $41.20 a day, which on a five-day workweek is $206. If one were to work the entire year, taking absolutely no vacations, thats just $10,712 a year. Forget about raising a family with those numbers you could not even raise yourself.
Here in Queens an average studio apartment runs for $600 a month, or $7,200 a year. That would be just under 68 percent of the annual gross return on a minimum wage earner. What about utilities, transportation, food, clothing, telephone and medical expenses, to name a few?
The last raise to the minimum wage was in 1997. Thats a seven-year stretch without a raise. Can you imagine not having a raise for seven years? And here is something to ponder. Even with little to no inflation over this period of time, the purchasing power of the minimum wage earner has fallen by one-sixth.
Congress members, who ensure their own raises, will be very slow-moving on this one. In most cases they feel that if they give a 50-cent-an-hour increase they are being generous.
We are living in a different world today, where job finding can be quite difficult. A minimum wage should be based on a minimum cost of living. The minimum wage for business should be at least $6.75 to $7 an hour. That raise comes out to a whopping 31 percent to 35 percent increase, but in reality its only 4 percent annually (making up for the seven scoreless years). Its needed, and its needed now.
Joe Palumbo is the fund manager for The Palco Group Inc., an investment company, and can be reached at email@example.com or 718-461-8317.
©2004 Community News Group
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