I just read that a Republican candidate for the Senate in Iowa is opposed to any increase to the Federal Minimum Wage – thinking that states should handle the issue. Well… let’s look at the current minimum wage & what it buys in my neck of the woods. Oh – we’ll assume you can get a job at minimum wage – note: restaurant staff in Indiana aren’t paid minimum wage. A waiter in Indiana is paid $2.13/hour plus tips (which are usually shared with other staff.)
Minimum wage – $7.25 an hour – $15,080 year for 1 person working 40 hours a week. Deduct necessary taxes of $1.154 http://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43409.pdf and you are left with $13,926 a year, which comes out to $1160 a month.
Like to eat? How much is that going to cost? http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/CostofFoodAug2014.pdf
Thrifty plan for males aged 19-50 – $187.70 – low cost plan is $242
Thrifty plan for females aged 19-50 – $166.80 – low cost plan is $210
These figures are the lowest possible on the chart, follow the USDA guidelines for what a body needs, & expect that food will be prepared in the home. In other words – beans & rice & just the basics. This does NOT include toothpaste, toilet paper, shampoo, soap, etc. – just food. (oh – and the IRS figures allowable living expense of $315/mo for food for 1 person – but you won’t get there on minimum wage.)
Need a place to live? http://www.areavibes.com/bloomington-in/cost-of-living/ (Take into account that my town’s cost of living is 87% lower than the national average)
Lowest found listing for 1 bedroom apartment $431(and you have to have transportation of some kind to get anywhere from here – no grocery stores, etc. within walking distance & it’s kind of rough) (also – you have to come up with security deposit and usually 1st & last month’s rent – hope you have some savings!)
average of electric/gas/water for comparable apartment $178 (although that seems mighty low to me)
transportation – if you have a car figure gas costs, maintenance, insurance, parking, etc.
if you don’t have a car payment, maybe $150/month (spreading out costs like oil changes & repairs over the year & this is really low)
annual bus pass is $300 (but buses do not run 24 hours – more like 6 a.m. to midnight) http://bloomingtontransit.com/fares-and-passes/
renter’s insurance – State Farm says less than $1/day – so figure $30/month to be on the safe side. (not necessary – but you could change this to life insurance)
phone – cheapest plan – AT&T for $45 bucks (no frills, period) – It’s probably cheaper to have a phone you can load with minutes
cable/internet – we’re going with $74 http://thebillfold.com/2013/06/how-much-do-you-spend-on-cableinternet-each-month/
I’m up to $1095 here (using the food amount for a male) and haven’t even taken into account Medical Insurance, optical, dental, or anything even remotely like savings. And, yes – I realize that a phone and cable/internet are not necessities. But, take those out and add in clothing, toiletries, cleaning supplies – those are not included in the above grocery costs.
So – let’s take out that $119 for phone & cable internet and add in what the government (IRS) feels are reasonable amounts for housekeeping supplies, apparel, personal care products – $152/month for 1 person.
Medical care? Maybe…
Healthy Indiana Plan http://www.in.gov/fssa/hip/2445.htm (because Gov. Pence chose not to up Medicaid enrollment so the ACA isn’t available to low income Indiana families) – near as I can tell would cost this hypothetical person at least $25 month (it might be more.)
So – we are up to $1128 out of the $1160 a month that this person is bringing in. That means you have $32 a month to cover any deductibles on medical costs, any emergencies (car repairs that haven’t been saved for yet), additional food costs (in case you run out), raises of any of these costs (car insurance, phone, cable, etc.), medicines… you can probably come up with other possible emergency events on your own.
Your monthly disposable income (no phone or TV/internet) is $32 – which can disappear in a heartbeat with any kind of emergency.)
So – you say that a single person can do this? Sure – they can. It’s doable. It’s hard. It’s spartan. But, it can be done.
Now – let me ask you this… would YOU do it? Or are you already doing it?
If you tally up your monthly grocery bill – is it less than $189 month?
Do you have a pet? You wouldn’t if you lived in an apartment – and had to spend money on pet food, vaccinations, spay/neuter, medical emergencies, etc.
What about utilities? Are you willing to turn the thermostat down to 65 or less during a Polar Vortex? Can you do without A/C in the humid Midwest summers?
I’d challenge any member of the Senate or House of Representatives to live in these exact conditions for a year, or even a month. But, like in the song Common People by Pulp they know they have an out – it’s something done on a lark, or on a bet, or to “show” that it can be done – they can always yell “Uncle” and go home to their $174,000 a year job/lifestyle.
But, is this now the American Dream? Just to be able to live in your own place, and have enough food to eat, and medical assistance if you get sick or are hurt, and a bit of relief via maybe a pet, a TV, to be able to go to a movie once in a while – yeah… some dream, eh? What do you think? Are we living in an Oligarchy now? Is that what the United States of America is all about?
(Feel free to check my figures - I added & subtracted a lot! – and note that all links are the most reliable figures I could find.)