Last year, the National Low Income Housing Association produced a fascinating and disturbing map. Perhaps you’ve seen it.
The representation showed the number of hours per week it would take a minimum-wage worker to afford a two-bedroom apartment in each state.
Keep in mind, this data accounts for no other bills; just housing. Not a single state came in at 40 hours or less. Or 50 hours or less. Or even 60.
The states with the lowest numbers of hours needed — West Virginia and Arkansas — still required 63 hours per week. Indiana clocked in just above that with 74 hours.
That astronomical number turned out to be minimal compared to the highest states: California (130 hours), New York (136 hours), Maryland (137 hours), New Jersey (138 hours) and Washington, D.C. (140 hours). That’s out of a possible 168 hours, which make up a week.
That means a minimum-wage worker in our nation’s capital could only enjoy four non-working hours per day if he’d like to afford the luxury of having a roof over his head.
In case you’ve never experienced it, there’s something extremely demeaning about earning the absolute bottom of the legal pay scale. “Before I started comedy, I used to work at McDonald’s making minimum wage,” comedian Chris Rock once said. “You know what that means when someone pays you minimum wage? You know what your boss was trying to say? It’s like, ‘Hey, if I could pay you less, I would, but it’s against the law.’”
So, as long as we’re insulting people’s humanity, let’s at least make sure they have enough to survive on in the meantime.
I think one of the biggest misconceptions about those in the lower class is that they are lazy. They just aren’t working hard enough, detractors will say. I have worked minimum-wage jobs in my life, and not extremely long ago. I wouldn’t describe myself or my former coworkers as lackadaisical.