If you haven't noticed, it's election time. One of the biggest campaign issues is better wages for American workers. We love to hear about rich people, but how often does the harsh reality of the minimum-wage worker come across your news feed?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Utah has some pretty crappy pay for good, working people out there. Below are the full-time jobs with the lowest average yearly wage in the state:
Ambulance drivers and attendants (excluding EMTs): $18,270
Ushers, lobby attendants and ticket-takers at movie theaters: $18,530
Baggage porters and bellhops: $18,700
Combined food preparation and servers, including fast-food: $18,740
Fast-food cooks: $19,040
Hosts and hostesses at restaurants, lounges and coffee shops: $19,510
Lifeguards, ski patrol and other recreational protective service workers: $19,680
Umpires, referees and other sports officials: $19,810
Dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers: $19,820
Those wages are yearly income for those jobs, and don't include tips. If you're a full-time fast-food cook, you're pulling in about $52 per day. Now let's use that daily figure along with some estimated monthly living costs to see just how hard it can be for some of these Utahns:
A one-bedroom apartment downtown is around $900 a month. And let's say your utilities on said apartment, Wi-Fi and cell phone bill come out to $250; and car payment, including insurance, is $200. Groceries and other spending money are budgeted at $400. That totals $1,750 per month. Thirty day's pay at an average of $52 per day is $1,560. That would leave you in the negative of about $190 each month. But, hey, maybe you get a roommate. Getting help with half the rent and utilities would save you maybe a few hundred, but these estimates are assuming you don't have any other expenses, which is likely not the case. What about those with credit card debt, student loans or those with kids?
Both major political parties want minimum wages raised. The $10 per-hour job, which brings in about $1,600 a month should be raised to $15 per month, which would give people a fighting chance at surviving on $2,400 per month. Michael Moore celebrated the fifth anniversary of Occupy Wall Street by telling the press that the historic movement has helped raise wages for workers in our country. This presidential election will maybe shed more light for the financial future of everyone ... if everyone votes.