The High Cost of Working for a Low Wage

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Being poor can be very costly, despite what conservatives say about low-income people having it easy because of government programs that help provide health insurance, food stamps, and other forms of assistance.


Poverty is something affecting more Americans these days. At least 15% of the country lives in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That translates into more than 46 million people. Half the population is categorized as “near poverty” and about three-fourths live paycheck to paycheck.


These individuals face many financial obstacles due to having so little income.


If they have a job (a low-wage occupation is one that pays $7.69 to $13.83 an hour), that requires transportation to reach work. For the poor, that means either taking public transportation, which costs roundtrip and often isn’t reliable, or driving a car that may require frequent repairs and more upkeep than newer models. Older cars usually aren’t as gas efficient as newer ones, which means paying more for gasoline.


Then there’s housing. For those poor people who actually can afford an apartment, they’ve had to come up with first and last month’s rent, plus security deposit. Those who can’t afford this investment have to live with relatives or roommates, in motels offering week-to-week deals, in shelters, or on the street.


And food poses its own problems. Obviously, food comes at a price, and if cash is in short supply, then eating a balanced meal is often out of the question. Eating less-healthy foods can lead to poor nutrition and health issues, which in turn cost money if the problem is so bad that medical care is required.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

It Is Expensive to Be Poor (by Barbara Ehrenreich, The Atlantic)

8 Ways Being Poor Is Wildly Expensive in America (by Dave Johnson, AlterNet)

39% of New York Bank Tellers Need Public Assistance (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)

Big Fast-Food Chains Pay So Little, Employees Use Billions in Welfare Benefits (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Ripped off Low-Paid Workers Are Also Cheated out of Legal Judgments (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

Job Creators Best at Creating Low-Wage Jobs (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


Leave a comment