A Low Minimum Wage Hurts Children

The low minimum wage of $7.25 hourly  hurts children because it is so low compared to the cost of living. Parent(s) on the minimum wage, even with a full time job,  cannot to pay rent regularly, purchase enough food or provide safe pre-k education, or childcare.  In 2014, 21% of all children (15.5 million kids) lived in Poverty USA—that’s about 1 in every 5 children.

Parent(s) earning minimum wage live outside the mainstream of society. They often hold part-time jobs. Too many live in poverty. They are always at risk of homelessness with no chance of escape. They are deeply humiliated by their financial situation. Their children are also at risk of  homelessness, abuse, neglect and humiliation.Our minimum wage often prevents the healthy development of our nation’s children.graph

Many minimum waged workers have unscheduled hours in part-time jobs. They may work for a few hours weekly
or 30 hours if they are lucky.  Even if they work 2 or 3 jobs, many do not earn a living wage.

Minimum waged workers cannot afford market priced housing. They must live in groups of family members and friends who can jointly pay the rent. Any member of the group may  lose wages, fail to pay their share of rent,  and force everyone to move on to another living arrangement.

When families fail to find friends or family to live with, they may live in their cars or homeless shelters. The constant moving harms children who must move from one pre-k or school to another. Children may lose their subsidized pre-k slot and move to unlicensed day care, with the risk of neglect, or abuse. This transient life hurts children in many ways.

A minimum-waged worker does not have paid sick leave, nor savings for an emergency. Wages are lost  if a child is sick, if a car needs repairs, if a storm halts public transportation, or if an apartment burns down. Lost wages result in failure to meet a rental payment, and the need to move to another home.

graph 2Minimum waged workers depend on many subsidies such as the food stamp program and school meals, food pantries that offer 1 bag of food weekly or bi weekly, Medicaid paid heath care, childcare vouchers, free after-school programs, the earned income tax credit. Voters and federal and state legislators may choose to cut funding for these programs even though the subsidies are never enough. The uncertainty of a stable home with access to adequate food, and childcare keeps children living with fear and without adequate support to learn in pre-k and school.  Our low minimum wage deprives children of their opportunity to learn.

Employers schedule minimum waged workers regardless of children’s school hours. Childcare subsidies are few and far between so a worker cannot depend on safe, reliable childcare. So their children are placed in situations where they may be abused and/or neglected. Abuse can cause traumatic stress disease in much the same way as our soldiers are affected. A child with TSD may be disabled for life.Worth More

Our workers and their children face enormous hardship because the minimum wage is so low.  They have little or no way of providing a stable life for themselves or their children. They may not be able to protect their children from harm. They are stuck in poverty.

If you would like to help, 1)Tell your congresswomen and men to stop cutting benefits that help these children  2) ask presidential candidates what they will do to keep our children out of poverty 3) support all actions in your state that will raise the minimum wage.

Posted: January 23, 2016 in: Child Poverty

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