I was watching an interesting show the other night called 30 Days. It's the brain child of Morgan Spurlock, who also did a movie called Super Size Me; a show where he wanted to show the effects of eating nothing but fast food for thirty days (although he was under a doctor's supervision).
On this particular show, Morgan is showing and learning what it is like for millions of people in the United States who have to try to survive while earning the Federal Minimum Wage; $5.15 and hour. From my own stand point I know how hard it is to live paycheck to paycheck, but I also live in a state where our minimum wage is $7.60 an hour; almost one and a half times the Federal Minimum wage. Anyway, he was quite shocked about some things. Let me put it in a nut shell for you.
Morgan and his girlfriend have $300 dollars on them when they move to Columbus, Ohio for this experiment. They find an apartment for $345 a month, and a landlord that is willing to work with them on the deposits. This apartment by the way is above a known crack house, has cockroaches and ants, and the insulation is so bad that Morgan and his girl have to put plastic over the windows on the inside.
To stick with the experiment, they both look for jobs of minimum wage. In Ohio that is actually $4.15 and hour, but the higher applies here. They find themselves in debt from the get go, since moving into their apartment they are -$390. Anyway, to make a long story short here is the math.
Rent: $345 + back deposit of $345
Electricity: Deposit: $75 + $125 monthly bill
Two Bus passes for the month: $30 (they can't afford a car)
Morgan needs x-rays from injury to wrist while working at minimum wage paying construction site: $567 (no insurance)
His girl gets bladder infection: $370 + $20 meds (no insurance)
Total for just this stuff: $1877
Gross wages of two people working Federal Minimum Wage for one month: $1648 average (remember this is gross, no taxes taken out yet)
Did you also notice that I didn't even account for food? And could you imagine how hard it would be if they had kids?
Something I feel I must also mention is that on average the dudes up on capital hill (the one's that veto raising the federal minimum wage every single year) have given themselves annual raises an average of $29,000 a year for the last ten years. Two people working full time at Fed. Min. Wage makes gross $19,776 a year. Pretty messed up I think. Congress has not raised the minimum wage since 1997. Yet I'm pretty sure that the average cost of living has gone up quite significantly since '97.
Anyway, I wanted to let you know about this show, it's worth the watch if you find the time.