For workers at the bottom of the income ladder, facing tough choices is a daily affair. Every day they ask themselves which needs they’ll pay for, and which they will sacrifice.
A worker who pays for a babysitter and bus fare in order to get to work might not be able to afford a meal and heat for their home.
Impossible decisions like these are amplified at this time of year, when the desire and pressure to give comes up against the reality of financial hardship.
Nearly half of all consumers plan to spend $250 or more on gifts this holiday season. But that’s a week’s earnings for a minimum wage worker – meaning little would be left for basic expenses such as food, transportation, child care and utilities.
For those earning at or just above the current national minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, the struggle is constant. That’s why President Obama has proposed increasing the wage to $10.10. Such an increase would erase decades of decline in the buying power of the minimum wage, and 28 million Americans would receive a much needed boost. Businesses would benefit, too, as these workers spend their extra earnings on goods and services sold in their communities.
To see how increasing the minimum wage would provide a much needed lift to workers, check out this new video.
This holiday season, the national minimum wage remains where it has been since 2009. It’s declined in value each year since it was last increased more than five years ago, and today it’s worth 20 percent less than it was in the 1980s.
While we’ve seen great progress in the states since President Obama first called on Congress to raise the minimum wage nearly two years ago, far too many Americans who are doing the right thing by taking responsibility for themselves and their families and working hard are falling behind.
In 2015, let’s hope that the overwhelming majority of Americans who support an increase in the national minimum wage are heard, and that low-wage workers receive the gift of a much needed raise.