That’s the minimum wage in Santa Clara County, California, where “the self-sufficiency standard for two adults, one preschooler, and one school age child is $77,973.” So if both of those adults both hold down two minimum-age jobs, they can attain self-sufficiency. (Data from the Insight Center for Economic Community Development, via Step Up Silicon Valley.)
Setting the minimum wage far below the poverty level is one of the biggest pieces of corporate welfare we Americans fund. Instead of businesses paying people a living wage, they pay wages at which a full-time worker–or even two full-time workers–can’t support a family, and the taxpayers step in to fill the gap with welfare programs. Or, more usually, the gap just stays a gap.
Some San Jose State students who were working at a community services center started wondering why so many people who had full-time jobs were still coming into the center for help with food, rent, and other necessities. Once they investigated, the reason became obvious, and they took action. They and a coalition of other organizations in the city–and its county, where my congregation is also located–started to press for an increase in the minimum wage, from the current $8 to $10.
If you’re in Santa Clara County, please send this letter to the San Jose City Council, which will be considering the $10 minimum wage at a meeting next Tuesday. Better yet, sign the letter and go to the meeting. And even better than that, sign the letter, go to the meeting, and send a donation to Raise the Wage San Jose. If you’re elsewhere, you can look up your state or city’s minimum wage–in many places, it’s no higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25–and multiply it by 2000. What annual income are folks are expected to live on in your area? Do you think it’s feasible?