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Demonstrators take part in a protest to demand higher wages for fast-food workers outside McDonald's in Los Angeles, California May 15, 2014. The march was held as part of an international protest by fast-food workers who planned to go on strikes in 150 c
The vast majority of Americans know they couldn't support their families on the $7.25 an hour federal minimum wage. According to a new poll, just 20 percent believe they could "support your household on a minimum-wage salary, which comes out to $1,250 per month, or about $15,000 per year."

The poll, done by Public Policy Polling for Americans United for Change, also finds 54 percent support for raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, with 37 percent of Republicans supporting it, which PPP's polling memo notes is "an unusually high level of support from GOP voters for an Obama backed policy initiative." And Obama has indeed been pushing $10.10 hard enough that you would expect many Republicans to oppose it on principle (the principle being f*** Obama).

Asked "Many big companies oppose raising the minimum wage, even though their minimum wage employees make so little they are eligible for Medicaid and food stamps. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? 'It's wrong that profitable companies get this kind of indirect subsidy from the taxpayers by paying poverty-level wages,'" 61 percent of those polled agreed; 74 percent agreed that "Someone who works full-time should be paid enough to keep them out of poverty."

It's particularly interesting to contemplate the 20 percent of people who say they could support their households on $1,250 a month. Some, surely, are people earning far, far more who take the view that they could lifehack poverty better than any minimum-wage worker and be happy and comfortable on $1,250 a month. But it's entirely possible that others are earning minimum wage and only getting part-time hours, thinking "man, a full-time income would be great." Or people who've been jobless for six months or more and lost their emergency unemployment aid while facing discrimination in an economy without enough jobs to go around. That's the sad thing: America has enough people struggling in poverty and enough rich people who think they're smart enough to do poverty better to leave a big question mark about who thinks they could live on $1,250 a month. Because you just might be able to live on it, but in the vast majority of the country, you wouldn't be living well.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 07:08 AM PDT.

Also republished by Hunger in America and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  And wouldn't that $1,250 be... (7+ / 0-)

    before taxes?

    So, we're talking somewhat less than that, which is fine if you're an ascetic or the Unabomber, but not so awesome for the 99.9999% of us who are neither.

    How about I believe in the unlucky ones?

    by BenderRodriguez on Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 07:42:33 AM PDT

  •  Because I have lived on that, or less (14+ / 0-)

    I know I can. But I am a single man, with low expenses and a very frugal life style. I also live in a fairly low cost area. I also expect to retire on not much more than that.

    But it's tough. And if you don't have health insurance, it's even tougher. And if you actually want to have some joy in your life, it's a bear, because you have no optional spending. You will live a life of beans and make believe.

    As Bender says, it's not bad for an ascetic. For instance, in my tougher times I had no bad habits-smokes, alcohol, soda, cable TV, cel phone, meat. (or dentist) I could walk to a library! I had a guitar, so I could make music. For entertainment, I'd play it at a local coffee shop for tips. And they'd give me a stale muffin for the next day's breakfast!

    I don't want to have to survive like that. I don't want any one else to have to either. A full time job should give you more than that, in a country where the wealthy have so much.

    •  I think most people agree with that. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IT Professional

      The question I have is how much more should it be? At some point I could see there being unintended consequences. And that point would be different for different geographical areas of the country.

      I'm not paranoid or anything. Everyone just thinks I am.

      by Jim Riggs on Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 04:23:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This will be my Social Security income (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      trumpeter, IT Professional

      Less if I am forced to retire before 70 – the actual age of fill SS.

      I certainly hope to be working until I die.

      Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it.

      by anastasia p on Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 04:25:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wow. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IT Professional

      I was a grad student. You were like hanging around with a guitar. Huh. My answer for living on that is that if you make that much you have to live communally (roommates). Which is what alot of undocumented workers and students do. And to be frank, people that make under $50,000 per year in high rent cities. I have had roommates who make $70+
      But as you say these are single person solutions and not family solutions. Sometimes some charities can help by providing a managed communal home (battered women shelters and the like) but it would be scary without that.

  •  I was able to support myself on minimum wage (7+ / 0-)

    When I was 18, 19...

    I'd just left my parents' home. I was healthy, had good teeth and a spare pair of glasses, a reliable car, plenty of work-suitable and going-out-suitable clothes that I brought with me. My only expenses were rent, food, car insurance and gas.

    I had no dependents. I had friends who invited me over for dinner and sent me home with a tupperware full of leftovers, or who were redecorating and did I want their old couch, I could go to art openings and graze the buffet.

    Sure. Under those circumstances, it's absolutely doable. But even at that age, I had enough imagination to realize that people starting from scratch and trying to build a life and have a family on those wages were screwed.

    A lot of people thinking they could do it... might be late middle-age types who remember what minimum wage used to buy in their teens, when adjusted for inflation min. wage was considerably more than it is now, when rent AFI was lower than it is now, when free clinics were more numerous and less crowded, when libraries had longer hours, when the parks department and adult ed programs and community colleges were better-funded, when you didn't need a computer/internet/smart phone to be part of the world.

  •  I have so I know I can - I don't now (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, Sonnet

    and fortunately my kids are grown and dealing with their own kids and fiscal issues - but that just about what I will be living on when I retire on my Social Security.  Presupposing the Evil Ones don't manage to give to the Koch Bros, et al before I get there (in another 3-1/2 years).

    •  it's rough (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IT Professional, bfitzinAR

      if you own a home with low taxes, and you never go anywhere, possible but rough.  For the others, they're doing extra stuff that takes time and energy, like walking rather than driving or taking buses, like not taking medications, like returning aluminum cans and running errands to pick up a few more bucks. It's exhausting being low-income, and many live on less.  

      plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

      by anna shane on Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 04:10:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I do own my own home - a miracle itself (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        anna shane

        as it was a combination of luck and a little help from my friends who made getting the mortgage possible back in 1998 (could afford the mortgage and then some, couldn't afford the down payment and closing costs without help) - and paid if off in 13 years (and added a PV system to my roof this year while I'm still employed - I knew if I didn't do it now, it would never happen - and will have that paid off in 8 months).  

        That's been my plan - I can live on my projected Social Security if I don't have a significant monthly lodging payment.  Taxes and insurance run between $150 and $175 a month and 2/3 of that is insurance which I will shut down if I have to.  But I spent early years (as a kid) with Mother laughing bitterly at the poverty level figures and wishing we had that much and middle years (in my 30s) as a single parent doing the same.  I know how to do it.  I'd rather not, but I can.

        •  I just read an article (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          about a town in California that is approving 200 square foot apartments that will rent for $1,300.  (el cerrito)

          plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

          by anna shane on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 06:06:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  CA is the most extremist state in the Union - (0+ / 0-)

            it's just that it's extremist in all directions so people just complain and don't focus on the extremism.  I have no idea who could live in that place.  It took 3 incomes to get a flat in San Francisco in 1980 and 2 incomes to maintain it.  (My mother and I with my kids lived there, but my sister and her son were part of the deal getting the flat in the first place.  My sister decided to go back to Austin but Momma and I managed pretty well - my sister's income helped with all the 1sts/deposits etc that we couldn't manage on top of the rent itself.)  At this point it would probably take 6 incomes to get it and 5 to maintain it.  Talking OK but not great incomes - about 3x what the minimum wage was at the time but still well under the median - per worker here.

  •  Yes, you can live on minimum wage... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lothar2009, Mr D, NoBlueSkies

    provided that your total mortgage/rent plus utility expenses do not exceed 628/month.  your food budget does not exceed $314/month.  Save $125 for retirement.  Transportation expenses do not exceed $189.  That leaves you nothing for clothing, health issues, etc.  So what part of the country has such a living standard?

    By the authority vested in me by Kaiser Wilhelm II, I pronounce you man and wife. Proceed with the execution...and the kiddie pool needs to stay open 24/7!

    by HarryParatestis on Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 04:08:55 PM PDT

    •  sorry, I forgot to take out taxes, ($94) n/t (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lothar2009, trumpeter, Mr D

      By the authority vested in me by Kaiser Wilhelm II, I pronounce you man and wife. Proceed with the execution...and the kiddie pool needs to stay open 24/7!

      by HarryParatestis on Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 04:10:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You wont be saving $125/mo (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        For retirement period. I rent out a 3 br full brick bungalow with full basement and garage in Warren, Mi. For $644/mo. I split the water
        Bill of roughly 70 with a tenant with 4 kids. If you are by yourself
        you could "survive" with ObamaCare and The EITC also.  But that's as good as you will find in Suburban Detroit.

        I live off my rentals and net less than the minimum wage and fond myself about 2-3 k short which my pension covers.

        It would suck to be say 40 and live like that. I'd probably off myself.
        I am 60 and only have 2 more years to SS which will get me about that 1,500.

  •  St John's (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    St Johns went from the Redmen to the Red Storm--didn't seem to diminish their standing-- and stayed linked to their past.

    Actions speak louder than petitions.

    by melvynny on Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 04:13:45 PM PDT

  •   I bring in about 3 times the current minimum wage (4+ / 0-)

    It's just enough to eat and live in doors and keep a car running so I can go to work to pay for the car repairs I need to go to work so I can afford to be indoors when I am not working to pay for the shit I need to have a job.

    It has been this way since my early 20's.

    Things were, at one time, going fairly well, even had money in savings.

    Then Bush was installed in the presidency and life has sucked ever since. Jobs gone, savings gone

    I blame republicans mostly.

    Dems could get their thumbs out of their asses more often, too.

    Or, we could just evolve out of politics and do things right.....

    Legal means "good".
    [41984 | Feb 4, 2005]

    by xxdr zombiexx on Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 04:19:34 PM PDT

    •  I'm about there too (4+ / 0-)

      I live in a "rent-controlled" 450 SF apt in a funky urban neighborhood in San Diego. My landlords are card carrying socialists, and they believe in affordable housing. They haven't raised the rent in I don't know how long. They could easily get double what I'm paying. I couldn't live where I live without them.

      I have no credit card, no savings. My car is ten years old, but paid off and low miles. With Obamacare, I now have health care. No vacations - maybe a trip down to Baja for a couple days next month. That would be it for the year.

      I had almost zero income for three years after the crash. I'm self employed so no UI. That killed whatever small gains I made in the previous years. Even if I lived like a mole from ages 30-40, whatever meager savings I could have accumulated would have been eaten up in 10 months. Forget three years.

      I'm 45, a licensed, successful professional, and living like a college student. I have friends in the same situation or worse. Unless you get get large chunks of money for a sustained period of time, there is no way anyone making even three times minimum wage can get off this hamster wheel.

      And no, you can't live off of minimum wage without the help of subsidies and food stamps. Impossible. Especially with children.

      These republicans have no problem sticking their Christianity in our vaginas, but they leave their "faith" at the door when it comes to plain old compassion. They really disgust me.

      Mediocrity cannot know excellence ~ Sherlock Holmes

      by La Gitane on Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 04:38:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  And if (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OooSillyMe, IT Professional

    those 20% sat down with a calculator and glanced at the current rent prices in many metropolitan areas (where the employment opportunities should be more plentiful) I think that number would drop precipitously.  Once one starts to factor in food, transportation and insurance costs it would drop even lower.

    I couldn't do it alone and I'm very grateful I don't have to right now.  This economy has become vicious to those of us on the lower end of it.

    •  Makes me wonder why the Democratic party (0+ / 0-)

      always advocate for increasing immigration numbers which increases the competition for scarce jobs.

      The poor are screwed by both parties, the Republicans for not raising the minimum wage, and the Democrats for increasing the importation or legalizing of more workers.

  •  This is how it is done in decent nations (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    La Gitane, OooSillyMe

    …and I think it is a better way to lift all the people up to a "minimum standard of living."

    The state invests in human capital and supplements low wages to make certain that it is possible to live a dignified life, with adequate food and housing. Food and housing are human rights, of course. At the same time, businesses can incubate and grow without being uncapitalized. All of this (income equality and a broad comfortable middle class) is accomplished through progressive taxation.

    People like it very much indeed.

    For an idea that does not at first seem insane, there is no hope.
                -- Albert Einstein:  far left, emo-prog, socialist.

    by Pluto on Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 04:32:08 PM PDT

    •  These are cash benefits, only (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      …and do not represent generous social support that many of the finer nations provide -- such as health care, public arts, complete education support -- and family and child subsidies and support, such as vacations, paid maternal and family care leave, and school allowances for children.

      For an idea that does not at first seem insane, there is no hope.
                  -- Albert Einstein:  far left, emo-prog, socialist.

      by Pluto on Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 04:42:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My unemployment has run out (3+ / 0-)

    My current income is $100 per week.  I'm earning that by organizing a Moral Monday movement in Gainesville.  I'm homeless and I'm extremely fortunate to have friends who are providing shelter.  I'm frustrated as hell that despite after nearly a year of filling out applications and occasionally interviewing, no one will hire me.  Mostly the reason I can't get hired is that I have a fresh class A misdemeanor on my record as a direct result of my social activism. (Long story, one day I may diary it.)  If I'd had $500 in my pocket (or in my bank account) the day I got arrested, I wouldn't have this problem.  But I didn't and now I have to pay the criminal "justice" system at least $40 per month (10% of my income) until I've paid them the nearly $3k they're charging me for the privilege of being on probation.  It's very, very expensive to be poor in this country and poor people are always only an inch away from being prisoners for the profit of for-profit prisons.

    If you don't like it, attack the message, not the messenger. The former may convince me that I am wrong, but the latter will always convince that I am right.

    by nancyjones on Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 04:55:23 PM PDT

  •  SS pays less than that (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IT Professional, OooSillyMe

    to most retirees. Most of them would like to get enough to live on.

    (Is it time for the pitchforks and torches yet?)

    by PJEvans on Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 05:21:50 PM PDT

    •  You are absolutely correct. And many on SS have (0+ / 0-)

      little to no savings left and have no pension because corporations shorted them or sold them as assets when they sold off the company. Forget about having a car or affording co-pays for doctor or hospital visits or buying new furniture when yours wears out after 25 years.......

  •  I couldn't pay my families medical bills (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IT Professional

    on minimum wage let alone, food, housing etc.

    "I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it!" ~ FDR

    by JC Dufresne on Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 08:05:37 PM PDT

  •  It isn't just that these people have to try to (0+ / 0-)

    "live" on minimum wage.....most of these jobs are part time so they don't even get $1,250 a month.  

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