Minimum wage workers can't afford their rent


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  • Rynn Las Vegas, NV
    March 25, 2013 6:12 a.m.

    It seems that as the decades go by it gets harder and harder to earn a decent living.
    What happens if we ever reach the point in the economy where only those with a college Master's degree can afford a decent living and everyone else is scraping by and/or depending on the government? How is that good for the country overall when only one segment of it can take care of itself properly? The reality is that, good or bad, not everyone is capable of getting that level of education.

  • Interloper Portland, OR
    March 25, 2013 2:59 a.m.

    The truth of the matter is that the one percent of people at the top of the economic distribution in the U.S. get a whopping 24% of income. The median wage is just $50,000 annually. Those at the bottom often have negative income. This misdistribution of assets is called income inequality. It means that regardless of how hard or how many hours working-class people work there is little increase in their income become increases go to those at the top of the hierarchy, particularly the one percent. Poor workers do not to cause their plight.

    It is ironic to see people in Utah, which has massive income inequality, trying to defend allocating an overwhelming share of society's assets to people who hide the take away overseas. The oligarchy is not helping our economy.

  • Eliyahu Pleasant Grove, UT
    March 24, 2013 2:23 p.m.

    To address several issues raised here... First, while our corporate tax rate is among the highest in the free world, the reality is that with loopholes, deductions and legal tax dodges, few corporations pay more than 11%, and many pay little or nothing. The base rate means nothing if no one is actually paying it.

    Secondly, the idea of "if you don't like minimum wage, work hard and get a better job" isn't going to work in times of high unemployment. It doesn't matter how hard people work when there are dozens of applicants for every job opening. One person will get the job and the rest, who may have worked just as hard or harder, are out.

    Third, the idea of abolishing minimum wages and letting the market determine what people will be paid harkens back to the Golden Age of the robber barons, where a fluctuating market with high unemployment and lots of immigrants looking for work meant that companies and corporations could easily exploit the most vulnerable workers while the owners became millionaires. Having someone work for a couple dollars an hour drags down the wages for everyone else in that occupation.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    March 22, 2013 6:13 p.m.

    Many minimum wage earners were those who settled for minimum grades while younger, and in school.

    Many honor roll students have secure employment, and nicer living conditions, and are not the blame for the wages of others.

    Wages are based on how an employee helps the business of an employer. Educated students are the ones they pick when a necessary skill is required.

    Rather then whine, blame, or expect things to be given, our fellow citizens need to develop some grit, and urgency. Let's do something.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    March 22, 2013 1:45 p.m.

    VP Biden just spent nine hundred thousand dollars for hotels on a recent European trip, and Michelle Obama over a million on a Vail Colorado trip. Hmm? How much for Barry's golf game with Tiger?

    Not fair! A person earning minimum wage can't afford this. Can't rob tax payers.

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    March 22, 2013 1:12 p.m.

    For example, lets look at South Dakota and compare that to Detroit.
    Population of Metro Detroit Area
    5.2 million people.
    Source: U.S. Census Bureau

    Population of South Dakota
    833,354 - Jul 2012
    Source: U.S. Census Bureau

    South Dakota average income
    2011- $48,321
    2004-2006 -$44,264

    The problem with your analysis is your comparing apples to oranges...again.
    And your talking about a very small area with your Walmart wages, that is NOT state wide average.
    Cherry picking stats don't help.
    Detroit is the go to mecca of the conservative talk shows though.

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    March 22, 2013 12:15 p.m.

    Thomas Sowell has been making this point for at least 15 years!

    It's good to see that some liberal sources, like Slate's Michael Yglesias, are finally starting to acknowledge what has been obvious to many others for years.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    March 22, 2013 11:35 a.m.

    I don't think that the liberals understand the human portion of economics very well.

    For example, lets look at South Dakota and compare that to Detroit.

    South Dakota has a really low unemployment rate, and are experiencing an energy boom with lots of good paying jobs. The drilling jobs have created such a demand that Walmart now is paying $16/hr to start just to hold onto their employees.

    Now look at Detroit. It is losing people and has a massive human capital surplus.

    Why would South Dakota need any minimum wage laws since the demand for labor is so high?

    If liberals want minimum wage to be bumped up, do what it takes to get companies hiring so that the market demands a higher starting wage.

  • Wonder Provo, UT
    March 22, 2013 11:03 a.m.

    @dwayne -- Seriously? You could live off of $4.58 a day for food, utilities, transportation, insurance, day care if needed, clothing, education costs (you're trying to better yourself), etc.? In what world?

  • Danish American Payson, UT
    March 22, 2013 10:54 a.m.

    George: Certainly the great state of New York is a shining example for the rest of us. If the "new" economics that New York espouses and forces onto companies worked, you would certainly be in better shape. The only thing that saves you is the financial industry is too entrenched to move.

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    March 22, 2013 8:30 a.m.

    ...and when Park City has a lovely shanty town just outside city limits to provide workers like they do in South Africa, rent shouldn't be a problem anymore. Conservative economic paradise.

  • Fred44 Salt Lake City, Utah
    March 22, 2013 6:20 a.m.

    Say NO to BO,

    The American Petroleum institute says that earning in 2011 were 6 cents on every dollar of gasoline purchased. That is the profit on the retail end and does not account for the profit on the production end which most experts say is significantly higher. Don't feel to bad for the oil companies they are not going broke anytime soon.

    The real issue that the far right never likes to talk about is the % increase in management wages in the last 30 years to the % increase in other employee wages. Corporate profits are at there highest levels in years, and wages are flat.

    The old business model was to provide a good product, hire good people and take care of them and you can make a nice profit. This model is being replaced by a model where you pay only what you have to employees and squeeze every dollar out of the company you can for yourself. Providing a quality product and taking care of your employees is bad business because it cuts into your profit.

    Not every business operates this way, but the old model is quickly disappearing.

  • jrgl CEDAR CITY, UT
    March 21, 2013 11:08 p.m.

    Why is no one here talking about the real issue of rents increasing?
    Instead the comments are only focusing on minimum wage.
    Wages are flat and productivity has increased.
    We get it, corporations aren't in the business of creating good paying full time jobs with health benefits. They are in it for the bottom line and to satisfy their investors.
    All of you whining about how the cost of a burger will increase if minimum wage is increased stop to consider the stratospheric rise of CEO pay compared with those earning minimum wage (or even $8, $10, $12 or $14 an hour wages). The minimum wage, if increased to what CEO pay has increased to in recent years would be $33 an hour!
    Rents are just too expensive for many in America! People are doubling up or moving in with family or never moving out of the family home in the first place.

  • statman Lehi, UT
    March 21, 2013 10:11 p.m.

    Not too many economists here...

    Creating an artificial price floor for labor is the LAST thing in the world the 'working poor' want. Doing so does one thing - it makes employers hire fewer of them. What economics ACTUALLY tells us about wages is that businesses are willing to pay workers only up to the amount that the worker can produce. When an employer faces an opportunity city to hire a worker who can produce $9 worth of output in an hour, but has to pay that worker $10 per hour, the employer declines to hire the worker. He'll make do with workers he already has, and he'll force them all to be productive enough to create $10 in output per hour. If they can't he starts laying people off...

    There's a Latin phrase 'reductio ad absurdum' that describes way to test the logic and validity of an argument. Take it to an absurd extreme and if it still makes sense you might be onto something. If higher minimum wages simply equate to better conditions for the working poor, why stop at $10? If more is better, why not make the minimum wage $1000 an hour. That'd be better, right?

    March 21, 2013 10:04 p.m.

    Re: say no to bo :

    If you were to some checking, and not just start spouting off things not real sure of, then you would no that the gas tax go's to the state and the feds. And from that tax it is used to fix and build roads. But hey it's your story tell it like you want.

  • George New York, NY
    March 21, 2013 9:03 p.m.

    @danish american, Gr8dane

    it seems to me spring street is not having trouble understanding your "101" explanations as much as they have advanced beyond swooning over overly simplistic theories that fail in practice. trickle down like all other theories look great on paper but fall for short of their lofty aspirations when applied in the real world.

  • spring street SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    March 21, 2013 5:29 p.m.


    It's not a lack of understanding it our argument it is a lack of being convinced by your weak reasoning that is the issue.

  • killpack Sandy, UT
    March 21, 2013 3:51 p.m.

    Danish American,

    Thank you for making what I feel to be a very excellent point. A large, for-profit enterprise that has 10% profit margins is considered a well run business. It is very difficult in the extremely competitive business environment in which we live, despite government protections and regulations attempting to lessen that competitiveness, to beat 10% as a large business. The oft vilified Walmart earns 6%, before taxes, of every sale it makes. That means 94 cents of every dollar that goes into a Walmart register goes to someone other than Walmart shareholders. The six cents left over are then taxed at the corporate income tax rate. And who are those shareholders that get all of the leftovers? As you've pointed out, they are millions of individuals trying to save up for retirement, investing in pensions, mutual funds, etc. Yet, for some reason our society vilifies these individuals for not blowing their money and investing it instead in things like Walmart so they can retire a little sooner. Unreal.

  • Danish American Payson, UT
    March 21, 2013 1:26 p.m.

    Spring Street just doesn't get it. I would try to explain again but it would be hopeless. I would suggest reading Dr. Thomas Sowell and Dr. Walter Williams for very good, comprehensive analysis of minimum wage. As for greedy corporations, I have a retirement account which if it wasn't for greedy corporations would be worthless. These large corporations are owned by individuals, retirement plans, and others. And if you look at most corporations financial statements very few make more than 10 to about 30 cents after taxes for every dollar they earn. So Spring Street, educate yourself and get out of the low information profile.

  • m.g. scott LAYTON, UT
    March 21, 2013 1:03 p.m.

    Believing as I do in the free market, I think that when a service or product is good, people will pay a certain amount for it. The better the hamberger, the more they will pay. Just like with cars, people will pay more for a better car, even if it really does not do anything that the cheap car won't, namely get someone from one place to another. Therefore, the cheapest hamberger chains probably can't pay more than minimum, whereas the better quality food resturants will pay more per hour for good employees. And that's the key, GOOD EMPLOYEE. A good employee won't stay at a minimum level for long unless they have absolutely no ambition. Simple as that. Let the market place decide wages, not government.

  • killpack Sandy, UT
    March 21, 2013 12:49 p.m.


    I do not hold minimum wage earners in contempt. They don't make federal law. I hold politicians who want to maintain or raise the minimum wage in the HIGHEST of contempt. Minimum wage HURTS the poorest individuals in this world the most. Because of minimum wage, many who are willing to work for less than the minimum wage, now cannot work at all. It is an evil practice used by corrupt politicians to gain cheap approval points from the ill-informed masses at the expense of the poorest individuals who walk this earth.

  • dalefarr South Jordan, Utah
    March 21, 2013 12:35 p.m.

    I do not understand why the comments on minimum wage jobs often display their dislike for workers who can only earn a minimum wage. These people work hard and to not have the personal connections that many of us used make a living. Further, they do not have investment income or surplus funds so that they can make money by doing deals in the free enterprise system. Raising the minimum wage increases the cost of a Big Mac by a little but not much and higher wages means more Big Mac's are purchased.

  • Say No to BO Mapleton, UT
    March 21, 2013 12:33 p.m.

    The free market will punish those who make too much profit. If McDonald's tries to charge more, Dee's will be there to entice the customers. Or Sonic. Or Hires. And the market creates the winners and losers.
    Enter government, telling them how much they will pay their people, adding taxes and mandating health care programs....and viola!...prices go up.
    The USA has the highest corporate taxes in the world (tied with Japan).
    Corporations don't pay taxes; people do.
    The narrative is that those big-bad-fat cats are getting rich on profits.
    Well, take gasoline for example. The oil companies get around 4% profit...but they never talk about the motor fuel taxes you pay on every gallon. That puts the corporate barons to shame.

  • spring street SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    March 21, 2013 9:45 a.m.


    Basic economics do not dicttate that. Coorperations pull in record level profit (the money they pocket after paying their business expenses) while flattening out the wages of their workers (also known as consumers). We have seen time and again what happens when corporate greed leads to high concentrations of wealth, it inevadibly leads to recession. It's simple cause (less people with the money to buy your products) and effect (decreased profit) to which corporations respond by further cutting or flattening wages and cycle goes on.

  • Gr8Dane Tremonton, UT
    March 21, 2013 7:29 a.m.

    Corporate greet? Yea, that's the only reason a Big Mac cost would swell to $10? No, economics 101 is that a company must make a profit or go out of business. If their labor costs triple, then the cost of their product must do so as well. They're already reeling under the forced costs of Obamacare. Five-Guys hamburger chain, for example, has said it will have to increase the costs of its burgers by as much as a dollar apiece in order to cover just the new costs of Obama care.

    We can rail against those big, nasty evin corporations all day long (you know. those same entities that provide jobs and products we all use and need). But it won't negate the basic law of economics.

    I'm sorry for those who struggle making ends meet. I've been there myself. But I don't feel sorry for myself, but try to better my situation with the tools the Good Lord has given me. And that is self-respect primarily.

  • spring street SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    March 20, 2013 9:33 p.m.

    Sorry for the misspells. Trappings of using a phone it was suppose to be roof not riff and idea not sea.

  • spring street SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    March 20, 2013 7:29 p.m.

    So these people that cannot put a riff over their families heads and/or feed their families need to concentrate on getting a higher education? Do you have any sea what it means to live with shelter and food insecurity for not just you but your children?
    As for the Big Mac comment the only reason they would need to go to10.00 would be due to coporate greed that tells them they deserve grand sums of profit.

  • Gr8Dane Tremonton, UT
    March 20, 2013 7:07 p.m.

    Guess what? Minimum wage was never meant to be a "living wage!" It s a starter wage. If we made entry-level jobs "living wage" jobs, then a Big Mac would cost $10. Sorry, but that's reality. Minimum wage folks need to recognize the value of education and training. And take advantage of the myriad programs out there that help poor people get education. It's the middle class (the middle class curse) that is struggling with paying for school; the poor seem to have all kinds of Pell Grants and gov't provided assistance.