Civilization, Whither Art Thou

Commentary on Society and Civilization

Minimum Wage and Benefits: Post 1

In 1997 when I started working for McDonald's I was making $5.15 per hour, which was minimum wage back then.  So what could I buy with that money compared to today?

Well according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics back in 1997 a pound of ground chuck was about $1.80.  So let's buy a pound of ground chuck.  Now I can make four quarter pound burger patties.  I like lettuce on my burgers so if I buy a pound of lettuce I can spend another 60 cents and get some lettuce.  We're up to $2.20.  I need some bread for those burgers, too, so I'll get a pound of bread for 85 cents.  Okay so now we're at $3.05.  But wait, I need to get home and I'm almost out of gas.  So I stop and get a gallon of gas for $1.20.  I've now spent $4.25 and have 90 cents to spare (I could almost buy another gallon of gas!).  So let's see how that same trip works today.

Minimum wage currently is $7.25.  So I go to the grocery store and buy my pound of ground chuck ($3.85), lettuce ($1.60), and bread ($1.40).  I spend $6.85.  I have to get home so I buy a gallon of gas ($3.69).  So now I've spent $10.54 and I had to put some of that on my credit now I'm in debt by $3.29.  Huh...

Minimum wage has not gone up enough to match rising prices of basic goods like food, energy, and rent.  I am going to explore this topic for the next few weeks and post on other topics related to how it has become much more difficult to live in this new era of American poverty.  

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