Tag Archives: minimum wage

Life on $7.40/hour

Claudette Wilson is 23 and works two jobs in the fast food industry, one at Burger King and one at a pizza place. She is on her feet for over 12 hours a day and makes $7.40 an hour. 

1. What is your typical day like?

Everyday for me is different. I can tell you how a typical Saturday is like: first I wake up around 8am to go to work at Burger King from 10am to 6pm. After I get off of work from Burger King, I go to my second job at Jet’s Pizza from 6pm to midnight. After I get done with working, sometimes I hang with friends, sometimes I just go to sleep.

2. There’s been a lot of talk lately about people wanting work/life balance. Does your job provide that?

My work/life balance is pretty rough at times. There’s not even much time for me, let alone anyone else. In a weird way though, having both jobs does provide balance to me and a change of scene, but I’m not sure about others.

3. What’s the craziest/most unexpected thing that’s ever happened to you while on the job?

The most unexpected thing that happened to me when I was at work is when I witnessed a robbery at the Burger King I work at. The guy tried to get away in a cab. One of the cashiers and my manager at the time ran outside after the cab and chased it down to get the cab driver’s attention. The driver stopped and got out of the car while the cashier and the robber tussled in the backseat for awhile. In the end, the robber got out of the car and ran across the street and got away.

4. What makes for a really good day on the job?

A good day on the job to me is when I arrive on time, and everyone is in their position and ready to work. There aren’t many bad attitudes and the customers aren’t being rude. The best kind of day is when everyone is doing their job and the day goes by swiftly.

5. What’s your annual salary? Do you get benefits?

I get paid $7.40 an hour. My annual salary varies depending upon how many hours I work, but I have not made over $15,000 ever annually. I do not receive benefits. I have worked as a cook, cashier and in just about every position short of management off and on for the last three years. I still live at home with my mother and try to go to school on the side. I do dream of something more, but it’s really hard to get jobs right now.

More kids then ever return to live at home in the United States

What is to blame?

In the last 50 years, this country has done a great job— by maintaining Social Security benefits, expanding Medicare, underwriting home-ownership, securing pensions, and the like— of improving the economic circumstances of the generation that rode the postwar boom years to wealth and comfortable senior citizenship. This country has done an increasingly poor job— by letting the minimum wage stagnate, dis-investing in schools, public colleges, and infrastructure, undercutting workers’ leverage, and the like— of supporting the economic aspirations of that generation’s children and grandchildren.

What does it mean to be “working poor”?

From an editorial in the Guelph Mercury

Consider the case of a Guelph-area single parent of two children, working a minimum wage job. If this parents works 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, their annual salary (before tax) works out to be $21,320. This falls below Canada’s low-income cut-off, the income threshold below which a family will likely devote a larger share of its income to the necessities of food, shelter and clothing than the average family.

Based on their salary, this family receives $1, 777 (before tax) a month. The average rental cost for a two-bedroom apartment in Guelph is $878 per month and a nutritious food basket for a family of three in this area is around $400 a month. If the parent takes the bus to and from work then they need to tack on another $72 for a monthly public transportation pass. This leaves the family just over $400 per month for taxes, clothing, recreation, childcare and other expenses.

Regardless of how hard this single parent works, $10.25 is clearly an inadequate wage. There is no flexibility in their budget for unexpected costs and they must make daily sacrifices that have long-term effects on their overall quality of life.

Of course, this family could try to get subsidized housing, but the current wait list in Guelph is 3.5 years. They could access the local food bank, as well as neighbourhood and church food pantries, to cut down on their food budget. They could apply for recreation subsidies and buy used clothing. They might even receive child-care subsidies and the GST/HST rebate. All of these supports are meant to help people who are struggling to get by, yet they have little impact on improving their overall quality of life.