In no state can a minimum wage worker afford a two bedroom unit at Fair Market Rent, working a standard 40-hour work week.
The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, but that figure varies depending on where you live. Earlier this year*, the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) released their annual housing report documenting the disparity between what minimum wage workers can afford to pay for rent and how much rent costs. While it’s not surprising that these workers have trouble paying their rent, it is shocking to see just how big the gap is in many states. For example, in Hawaii, the most expensive state, a person needs to make $31.68 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment. (An apartment is considered affordable if rent and utilities cost under 30 percent of a person’s income.) For someone making minimum wage, that would mean working 175 hours — which isn’t even possible (since there are only 168 hours in a week). The disparity exists for every state and commonwealth with the shortest work week in Puerto Rico, where you would still need to work 55 hours to make the rent.
Since 2008, the affordability of housing has steadily eroded for working households in 24 states. Nearly one in four working households spends more than half its income on housing costs, according to a report from the Center for Housing Policy.
A Message to the 53 Percent
Congratulations on successfully mastering a condescending tone. I have some news for you, though: you are part of the 99 percent. I am part of the 99 percent. My neighbor in his brand new Prius is part of the 99 percent. Our grievances are wide-reaching. Our stories and backgrounds are vastly different. [more]
A great take on this.
from PP’s post below the fold:
“The richest 5 percent of households obtained roughly 82 percent of all the nation’s gains in wealth between 1983 and 2009. The bottom 60 percent of households actually had less wealth in 2009 than in 1983, meaning they did not participate at all in the growth of wealth over this period.”
This is the problem with the “53%” tagline: they don’t realize just how badly they are being fucked. If the distribution of wealth in this country were more equitable, you wouldn’t have to work as hard. How is it rational to simply be complacent when we know from historical data that it doesn’t have to be this way?
This is my main issue with Conservatives who seem to believe that greater effort in one’s affairs, much like tax cuts, will always solve your problems. The answer always seems to be “work harder.” Really? What intolerable ignorance. There is currently 1 job open for every 5 job-seeking individuals. Everyone who is newly unemployed since 2008 had a job before the recession hit. These individuals are not unemployed because they choose to be.
And 100 hour work-weeks? Great for you. I’m sure every American would be proud to work 100 hours a week without complaining, right? That’s entirely reasonable. I mean that’s medically healthy, right? I mean, this country didn’t literally have extended periods of labor-related violence over work conditions of that nature, right? And when it comes to starting a small business, surely anyone can start a business when banks aren’t willing to loan you capital, right? But of course, to start a small business, you should probably learn how, meaning going to school, and taking on student loan debt, which will count against you when you go to take out a business loan, making banks even LESS likely to loan you capital to start a small business, right?
People living in hunterer-gatherer societies don’t even have to work this hard to survive. If you have to work 100-hour work weeks to make ends meet, you’d literally be better off stripping naked and running into the woods to live among the wolves. To be complacent in that sort of situation, and expect others to be as well, is self-defeating and absurd.
None of these protesters are complaining about a 60-hour work week; I’m sure many of them would view such a commitment as onerous, but I haven’t seen a single sign that says this is one of their central issues. I haven’t met anyone that supports these protests who feels you shouldn’t be willing to work more than 40 hours/week to be successful. They’d probably be happy to just find a job that paid them enough to make ends meet. And that’s why the sort of hyperbolic nonsense on display here completely misses the point. These so-called “99%” aren’t complaining because they’re not willing to work hard. They’re not complaining because they’re just “sitting on their ass.” They’re complaining because they played by the rules, and now they can’t make ends meet. They’re complaining because the same system under which they have tried to make a life for themselves seems to benefit some people much more than others. If you’re working 60-100 hours a week at a middle-class salary, do you honestly feel that a Corporate Executive who makes $10’s of millions of dollars a year is working harder than you? The attitude which says “there’s nothing wrong with this, suck it up,” is not only patronizing to people who want to work hard but can’t find work; it’s outright irrational and self-destructive.
A Message to the 53 Percent
Congratulations on successfully mastering a condescending tone. I have some news for you, though: you are part of the 99 percent. I am part of the 99 percent. My neighbor in his brand new Prius is part of the 99 percent. Our grievances are wide-reaching. Our stories and backgrounds are vastly different.
Don’t believe me? Here’s some anecdotal evidence for your taking: according to my income, I am the 60 percent. I am young like many of the Occupy Wall Street protesters. I have a full-time job and will soon be a salaried employee. I make enough money to live in DC with roommates, pay my bills, pay my student loans and still have a little money left over each month. I have worked damn hard but I am also incredibly lucky. Hard work is not universally successful. Just because my hard work and your hard work eventually paid off doesn’t mean hard work pays off for everyone.
So I guess you and I are the same, no? I’m just outside your “53 percent” range, but I also have a job and also “actually pay taxes“… as though someone working a minimum wage job barely surviving on their paycheck doesn’t pay taxes.
The purpose of “I am the 53 percent” seems to exist solely to say, “I didn’t have an easy life either, but I worked hard and now my life isn’t so bad, so stop complaining.” Despite the inherently condescending nature of your grievances, your stories are important, too. Yes, even you, Erick Erickson (pictured above). We don’t all agree. Erickson might try to throw salt on me and brandish a cross any time my progressive being crosses his path, but I don’t wish for the complete destruction of capitalism. Being part of the 99 percent means our ideas for solutions to our nation’s problems will not be the same. And you’re rolling your eyes because we’re outraged at Wall Street? Actually, no, I’m not sure you’re rolling your eyes; you’re merely keeping your eyes shut:
- How Goldman Sachs Created the Food Crisis
- The People vs. Goldman Sachs
- Hedge Fund Gamblers Earn the Same In One Hour As a Middle-Class Household Makes In Over 47 Years
- The More Americans That Go On Food Stamps The More Money JP Morgan Makes
- The new “Let Them Eat Cake!”
- Is the SEC Covering Up Wall Street Crimes?
- Obama Seeks to Win Back Wall St. Cash
- Revolving Regulators: SEC Faces Ethic Challenges with Revolving Door
- “The richest 5 percent of households obtained roughly 82 percent of all the nation’s gains in wealth between 1983 and 2009. The bottom 60 percent of households actually had less wealth in 2009 than in 1983, meaning they did not participate at all in the growth of wealth over this period.”
- Q: “Are you comfortable with the fact that several of your member companies have engaged in large-scale criminal activity?”; A: “You’ll have to be specific.”
"I Am The 53%" AKA "I am privileged and lucky in such a way that my life has worked out well; while I do not enjoy the benefits of the upper classes, I strive to become a member of that group, and see the proper manner of doing that is hard work - even though the majority of the upper classes come from monied stock, with only a limited number being the "self-made man/woman" of legend. I have been told that the members of Occupy Wall Street are young, lazy, and I do not feel that this image applies to me; the news reports covering the events emphasise how young the people are, and how trivial some of their reasons for protest seem."
AKA “Divide and Conquer” by big business.
A Harvard business prof and a behavioral economist recently asked more than 5,000 Americans how they thought wealth is distributed in the United States. Most thought that it’s more balanced than it actually is. Asked to choose their ideal distribution of wealth, 92% picked one that was even more equitable. Check out the rest of our inequality charts here.