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The Hourly Wage Required to Rent a 2-Bedroom Apartment, 2017 - CityLab
"America’s mismatch between wages and rental prices is more perverse than ever."



"[map: "How many hourly wages workers make enough to afford modest rents?"]

For millions of Americans, housing costs are perversely mismatched to hourly wages. In 2017, the average U.S. worker would need to bring in a whopping $21.21 per hour to reasonably afford a modest two-bedroom apartment. That’s nearly three times the federal minimum wage of $7.25, and roughly 30 percent more than the $16.38 hourly wage that the average U.S. renter brings home.

These stark numbers come from the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s latest Out of Reach report, which maps the minimum hourly wage required to afford a modest rental based on federal Fair Market Rent (FMR) estimates. The report defines “affordable” as housing and utilities that cost no more than 30 percent of a person’s annual income—also the basic standard used by the feds. NLIHC has run these reports since 2005, and this minimum “housing wage” is rising year over year.

[chart: "Remote Hawaii is an outlier for its extreme housing unaffordability, but some of the nation’s most populous states have huge shortfalls between average renter wages and “housing” wages."]

Even with a handful of states and cities celebrating recent “livable wage” victories (or defeats, if you ask a certain Georgia congressional candidate), there’s not a single state, county, or metro area in which a simple two-bedroom rental is affordable to a person working 40 hours per week, 52 weeks per year, at the local statutory minimum wage. And in states with particularly in-demand urban housing markets, the shortfall between rent and housing costs is particularly staggering.

For example, a FMR two-bedroom apartment in Hawaii, with the highest statewide housing costs in the nation, is $1,830. That would require earning $35.20 per hour, close to four times the state minimum wage of $9.25, and $19.56 per hour less than what the average renter there earns. In Maryland, a simple two-bedroom costs considerably less on average—$1,470 per month—but renters would still need to draw in $28.27 per hour to afford it.

[maps: "The twelves counties in Oregon, Arizona, and Washington where a one-bedroom apartment is affordable to minimum wage workers (shown in yellow) are largely rural, far from job centers. (NLIHC)"]

In only 12 counties in Washington, Arizona, and Oregon (all states with minimum wages above the federal standard) can that worker afford a modest one-bedroom unit. Almost all of these are in sparsely populated rural areas, far from job centers. More than 76 percent of renter households reside in a county or metro area where it takes more than 60 hours per week of full-time, minimum-wage work to reasonably afford even a one-bedroom unit. In California, the nation’s most populous state, it would take 92 hours. In Virginia, it would take 109.

More than 2 million U.S. workers are paid wages at or below the federal minimum, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That represents nearly 3 percent of all workers paid hourly. For these workers, the affordable housing pinch is most acute. The struggle is real for the rest, too. Americans earning median wages in many of the country’s fastest-growing occupations—customer service agents, nursing assistants, health aides, retail workers—aren’t making enough to manage even a one-bedroom without dumping more than 30 percent of their income.

[chart: "Of the seven fastest-growing jobs, only nurses make enough to reasonably afford rent."]

What gives? Rents are declining in some of the priciest American cities; it seems the luxury rental bubble has finally sprung a leak. But a persistent shortage of affordable units is still pinching renters in lower income brackets. Fewer families are buying homes, often due to a lack of access to mortgage credit or insufficient savings for a downpayment. Demand for rentals continues to surge, and households across the income spectrum are competing for the same scarce units. Low-wage workers have seen pay increases over the past two years, but those haven’t kept up with the cost of living through an affordable housing crisis with no end in sight."
labor  housing  rent  2017  minimumwage  affordability  california  hawaii  jobs  wages  income 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Why Young Americans Are Giving Up on Capitalism | Foreign Policy
"Imagine that you’re twenty years old. You were born in 1996. You were five years old on 9/11. For as long as you can remember, the United States has been at war.

When you are twelve, in 2008, the global economy collapses. After years of bluster and bravado from President George W. Bush — who encouraged consumerism as a response to terror — it seems your country was weaker than you thought. In America, the bottom falls out fast.In America, the bottom falls out fast. The adults who take care of you struggle to take care of themselves. Perhaps your parent loses a job. Perhaps your family loses its home.

In 2009, politicians claim the recession is over, but your hardship is not. Wages are stagnant or falling. The costs of health care, child care, and tuition continue to rise exponentially. Full-time jobs turn into contract positions while benefits are slashed. Middle-class jobs are replaced with low-paying service work. The expectations of American life your parents had when you were born — that a “long boom” will bring about unparalleled prosperity — crumble away.

Baby boomers tell you there is a way out: a college education has always been the key to a good job. But that doesn’t seem to happen anymore. The college graduates you know are drowning in student debt, working for minimum wage, or toiling in unpaid internships. Prestigious jobs are increasingly clustered in cities where rent has tripled or quadrupled in a decade’s time. You cannot afford to move, and you cannot afford to stay. Outside these cities, newly abandoned malls join long abandoned factories. You inhabit a landscape of ruin. There is nothing left for you.

Every now and then, people revolt. When you are fifteen, Occupy Wall Street captivates the nation’s attention, drawing attention to corporate greed and lost opportunity. Within a year, the movement fades, and its members do things like set up “boutique activist consultancies.” When you are seventeen, the Fight for 15 workers movement manages to make higher minimum wage a mainstream proposition, but the solutions politicians pose are incremental. No one seems to grasp the urgency of the crisis. Even President Barack Obama, a liberal Democrat — the type of politician who’s supposed to understand poverty — declares that the economy has recovered."



"Does this mean that the youth of America are getting ready to hand over private property to the state and round up the kulaks? No. As many of those who reported on the Harvard survey noted, the terms “socialism” and “capitalism” were never defined. After meeting with survey takers, John Della Volpe, the director of the Harvard poll, told the Washington Post that respondents did not reject capitalism inherently as a concept. “The way in which capitalism is practiced today, in the minds of young people — that’s what they’re rejecting,” he said.

Capitalism, in other words, holds less appeal in an era when the invisible hand feels like a death grip. Americans under 20 have had little to no adult experience in a pre-Great Recession economy. Things older generations took for granted — promotions, wages that grow over time, a 40-hour work week, unions, benefits, pensions, mutual loyalty between employers and employees — are increasingly rare.

As a consequence, these basic tenets of American work life, won by labor movements in the early half of the twentieth century, are now deemed “radical.” In this context, Bernie Sanders, whose policies echo those of New Deal Democrats, can be deemed a “socialist” leading a “revolution”. His platform seems revolutionary only because American work life has become so corrupt, and the pursuit of basic stability so insurmountable, that modest ambitions — a salary that covers your bills, the ability to own a home or go to college without enormous debt — are now fantasies or luxuries.

Policies like a $15 per hour minimum wage — brought to mainstream attention not by Sanders, but by striking fast food workers years before — are not radical, but a pragmatic corrective to decades of wage depreciation. The minimum wage, which peaked in 1968, would have reached $21.72 in 2012 had it kept pace with productivity growth. Expectations of American life are formed on the premise that self-sufficiency is possible, but nearly half of Americans do not have $400 to their name. The gap between the rhetoric of “economic recovery” and “low unemployment” and the reality of how most Americans live is what makes Sanders seem unconventional: he describes widespread economic hardship many leaders rationalize or deny. Voters are not only rejecting the status quo, but how the status quo is depicted by media and politicians — the illusion that the economy is strong, and that suffering is the exception, not the rule.

We live in an era where heated rhetorical battles are fought over terms that have lost clear meaning. In an attempt to placate an angry populace, all three major candidates — Sanders, Donald Trump, and Hillary Clinton — have at various times positioned themselves as “anti-establishment”: a dubious description of two career politicians and a billionaire tycoon. “Neoliberal” has gone from a term that describes an advocate of specific economic and political policies to an insult hurled indiscriminately on social media. Thanks to Trump, the word “fascist” has reentered the American political vocabulary, with some playing down Trump’s brutal and unlawful policies on the grounds that they do not precisely emulate foreign fascist leaders of the past. Meanwhile, Trump castigates Clinton for not using the term “radical Islam.” This sparring over labels illustrates the depths of our ideological confusion.

It is in this rhetorical morass that the debate over whether young Americans support “socialism” or “capitalism” takes place. Omitted from most coverage of the Harvard poll was the fact that youth were asked not only about socialism and capitalism but four other categories. “Which of the following, if any, do you support?” the questionnaire inquired, giving the options of socialism, capitalism, progressivism, patriotism, feminism, and social justice activism. None of the terms were defined. Respondents could choose more than one. “Socialism,” at 33 percent, actually received the lowest support. “Patriotism” received the highest support, at 57 percent, while the three remaining categories were each supported by roughly half the respondents.

What do these category-based questions really tell us, then, about the allegiance of youth to ideologies? Nothing. The real answers are found in questions about policies. When asked whether they support the idea that “Basic necessities, such as food and shelter, are a right that the government should provide to those unable to afford them,” 47 percent of all respondents said “yes.” Does this indicate support for socialism? Not necessarily. It indicates that respondents grew up in an America where a large number of their countrymen have struggled to afford food and shelter — and they want the suffering to stop.

You do not need a survey to ascertain the plight of American youth. You can look at their bank accounts, at the jobs they have, at the jobs their parents have lost, at the debt they hold, at the opportunities they covet but are denied. You do not need jargon or ideology to form a case against the status quo. The clearest indictment of the status quo is the status quo itself."
age  capitalism  economics  us  socialsafetynet  socialism  2016  occupywallstreet  ows  democracy  labor  work  minimumwage  education  highered  highereducation  debt  neoliberalism  progressivism  patriotism  donaldtrump  hillaryclinton  barackobama  opportunity  hope  despair  frustration  ideology  berniesanders  employment  unemployment  youth  politics  policy  statistics 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Chain restaurants are killing us: Billionaire bankers, minimum-wage toilers and the nasty truth about fast-food nation - Salon.com
"At both the corporate and the franchise level, industry officials are keeping their mouths shut about the strike, and for obvious reasons. Acknowledging worker discontent is a no-win situation for enterprises that have invested so much in depicting themselves as enclaves of family-friendly happiness. I mean, nothing deflates a carefully constructed brand image like an angry worker standing out front screaming about not being able to vaccinate her six-month-old on said brand’s lousy pay.

However, the industry’s D.C. attack dog, Rick Berman, felt no such compunction, and commenced snarling immediately. On the day of the strike in August 2013, his Employment Policies Institute ran a full- page advertisement in the Wall Street Journal featuring a big photo of a Japanese kitchen robot. The fast-food protests “aren’t a battle against management,” the ad proclaimed, but a “battle against technology.” Should workers push too hard for super-size wages, shiny automatons might well be deployed in restaurants across the country, making you-know-who totally redundant.

The ad’s implication was that companies employ humans as an act of charity. If those ingrate humans mouth off too much, those noble companies will just go ahead and take the bottom-line steps they’ve magnanimously refrained from taking until now. “Hard work” and an “honest living” actually mean nothing in this world; capital means everything. Look on my technology, ye powerless, and despair!

I thought about that nightmare of automation for quite a while after Berman’s ad ran. It has a grain of truth to it, of course. Journalists have been replaced with bloggers and crowdsourcing. Factory hands have been replaced with robots. University professors are being replaced with adjuncts and MOOCs. What else might the god Efficiency choose to de-skill?

Here’s a suggestion: the ideological carnival barkers in D.C. As I watched the creaking libertarian apparatus go into action, sending its suit-and-tie spokesmen before the cameras to denounce unions and order fast-food workers to shut up, I wondered how long capital would tolerate its old-fashioned existence. In many cases, these people haven’t had an original thought in years. Their main job is to appear concerned on Fox News and collect a six-figure sinecure at some industry-subsidized think tank. To say that they “work hard” for an “honest living” is to bend meaning to the point where its fragile chicken bones snap beneath its rubbery flesh. In a sane world, they are the ones who would be most profitably replaced, their space in the CNBC octobox taken by Hatsune Miku–style projections, attractive Republican holograms whose free-market patter could be easily cued up by a back-office worker in Bangalore."
fastfood  2014  thomasfrank  chains  economics  capitalism  globalization  banking  minimumwage  us  technology  ideology  health  cities  urbanism  urbanplanning  urban  cars  deproffessionaliazation  automation  efficiency  productivity  obesity  power  control  inequality  work  labor 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Episode 562: A Mall Divided : Planet Money : NPR
"The Westfield Valley Fair Mall in California is like any other mall except for one thing: half of the mall is in the city of San Jose and the other half is in the city of Santa Clara. The boundary line runs right through the mall.

For a long time, this didn't matter. But in 2012, one city — San Jose — raised its minimum wage from $8 an hour to $10 an hour. This change created two economic worlds within a single, large building. Employees doing more or less the same work, just steps away from each other, started making different wages.

On today's show: minimum wage stories from a single mall. What happens when some stores suddenly have to pay their workers more — and others are still paying less."
borders  santaclara  sanjose  labor  policies  salary  2012  2014  malls  via:caseygollan  work  minimumwage  employment  salaries  economics 
august 2014 by robertogreco
The Pitchforks Are Coming… For Us Plutocrats - Nick Hanauer - POLITICO Magazine
"Many of us think we’re special because “this is America.” We think we’re immune to the same forces that started the Arab Spring—or the French and Russian revolutions, for that matter. I know you fellow .01%ers tend to dismiss this kind of argument; I’ve had many of you tell me to my face I’m completely bonkers. And yes, I know there are many of you who are convinced that because you saw a poor kid with an iPhone that one time, inequality is a fiction.

Here’s what I say to you: You’re living in a dream world. What everyone wants to believe is that when things reach a tipping point and go from being merely crappy for the masses to dangerous and socially destabilizing, that we’re somehow going to know about that shift ahead of time. Any student of history knows that’s not the way it happens. Revolutions, like bankruptcies, come gradually, and then suddenly. One day, somebody sets himself on fire, then thousands of people are in the streets, and before you know it, the country is burning. And then there’s no time for us to get to the airport and jump on our Gulfstream Vs and fly to New Zealand. That’s the way it always happens. If inequality keeps rising as it has been, eventually it will happen. We will not be able to predict when, and it will be terrible—for everybody. But especially for us.

***

The most ironic thing about rising inequality is how completely unnecessary and self-defeating it is. If we do something about it, if we adjust our policies in the way that, say, Franklin D. Roosevelt did during the Great Depression—so that we help the 99 percent and preempt the revolutionaries and crazies, the ones with the pitchforks—that will be the best thing possible for us rich folks, too. It’s not just that we’ll escape with our lives; it’s that we’ll most certainly get even richer."

[See also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBx2Y5HhplI ]
inequality  comingrevolution  politics  economics  business  money  nickhanauer  disparity  us  plutocracy  history  capitalism  2014  luck  success  wealth  divineright  trickledowneconomics  minimumwage 
june 2014 by robertogreco
The “middle class” myth: Here’s why wages are really so low today
"I first saw those sites on a labor history tour led by “Oil Can Eddie” Sadlowski, a retired labor leader who lost a race for the presidency of the USW in 1977. Sadlowski was teaching a group of ironworkers’ apprentices about their blue-collar heritage, and invited me to ride along on the bus. Oil Can Eddie had spent his life agitating for a labor movement that transcended class boundaries. He wanted laborers to think of themselves as poets, and poets to think of themselves as laborers.

“How many Mozarts are working in steel mills?” he once asked an interviewer.

In the parking lot of the ironworkers’ hall, I noticed that most of the apprentices were driving brand-new pickup trucks — Dodge Rams with swollen hoods and quarter panels, a young man’s first purchase with jackpot union wages. Meanwhile, I knew college graduates who earned $9.50 an hour as editorial assistants, or worked in bookstores for even less. None seemed interested in forming a union. So I asked Sadlowski why white-collar workers had never embraced the labor movement as avidly as blue-collar workers.

“The white-collar worker has kind of a Bob Cratchit attitude,” he explained. “He feels he’s a half-step below the boss. The boss says, ‘Call me Harry.’ He feels he’s made it. You go to a shoe store, they got six managers. They call everybody a manager, but they pay ’em all shit.”

The greatest victory of the anti-labor movement has not been in busting industries traditionally organized by unions. That’s unnecessary. Those jobs have disappeared as a result of automation and outsourcing to foreign countries. In the U.S., steel industry employment has declined from 521,000 in 1974 to 150,000 today.

“When I joined the company, it had 28,000 employees,” said George Ranney, a former executive at Inland Steel, an Indiana mill that was bought out by ArcelorMittal in 1998. “When I left, it had between 5,000 and 6,000. We were making the same amount of steel, 5 million tons a year, with higher quality and lower cost.”

The anti-labor movement’s greatest victory has been in preventing the unionization of the jobs that have replaced well-paying industrial work. Stanley was lucky: After Wisconsin Steel shut down in 1980, a casualty of obsolescence, he bounced through ill-paying gigs hanging sheetrock and tending bar before finally catching on as a plumber for the federal government. The public sector is the last bastion of the labor movement, with a 35.9 percent unionization rate. But I know other laid-off steelworkers who ended their working lives delivering soda pop or working as security guards."
unions  labor  work  us  middleclass  edwardmcclelland  2013  minimumwage  workingclass  history  class  poetry  poets 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Black Friday and the Race to the Bottom : The New Yorker
"Around the country, there are the beginnings of a wage movement. A minimum-wage hike has passed the State Senate in Massachusetts, and similar efforts are under way in New York and numerous other towns and counties. (In this week’s issue of the magazine, Steve Coll writes about one in Washington State.) President Obama announced his support for a Senate bill that would increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 over two years. Fast-food workers have been protesting low pay for months, and they plan to walk off the job in a hundred cities this coming Thursday, demanding fifteen dollars an hour. On Black Friday, more than a hundred people were arrested outside Walmart stores from coast to coast. This movement is the great social-justice cause of our time.

But who is paying attention? A YouTube clip of the arrests had a hundred and twenty-nine views by midafternoon on Monday. A video of a woman being arrested inside a Walmart during a Black Friday scuffle over heavily discounted twenty-three-inch TVs had more than six million views, along with more than fifteen thousand comments, many of them along the lines of “fighting over piece of shit tv’s ….Only in America.”

You would think that the major American retailers, keenly aware of the problem of “slow wage growth” and still smarting from their lousy Black Friday numbers, would be leading the protests in favor of higher wages. But one place where the new wage movement has made no inroads is Bentonville, Arkansas, where Walmart has its headquarters. Apparently, slow wage growth has nothing to do with Walmart, which is bitterly opposed to any legislation that would require it to pay its workers more. The other major American retailers feel the same way. They argue that higher wages would mean higher prices and fewer employees. Though there is very little evidence to support the notion that minimum-wage increases lead to layoffs and unemployment, and a great deal of evidence to refute it, the retailers are sticking to their story, which is the story of the American economy of the past generation: lower prices and lower wages—a race to the bottom.

During the civil-rights era, some moderate Southern businessmen spoke up in favor of equal opportunity on economic grounds: if department stores and other businesses were desegregated, they would have more customers, and, with expanded access to employment, those customers would have more spending power. This bottom-line thinking allowed the businessmen to land on the right side of history without explicitly identifying with the demands and aspirations of black Southerners.

Similarly, while no big-box executive can risk being seen by shareholders to be openly taking the side of the lowest-paid employees, there is a hardheaded argument to be made for doing so: the company’s revenues depend on higher hourly wages. While no one imagines that Republicans would allow the minimum-wage bill to pass the House of Representatives, corporate executives are paid to be ruthlessly practical. America is still waiting for the first retail C.E.O. to see what’s in front of his nose."
2013  georgepacker  minimumwage  walmart  wages  salaries  work  labor  economics  incomeinequality  inequality 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Mobile Factory With Hope for a Better Life – Mexico City Journal - NYTimes.com
"Textiles had once been a hobby — she used to collect huipiles, the traditional woven tunics of Mexico and Central America — but when she decided to become an artist in 2006, she returned to cloth and sewing. Her work now involves a mixture of textiles and technology. Many of her pieces involve sewn images with circuits that let users push buttons for sounds or displays of light.

Completed works from the mobile maquiladora project, for example, will create the whine of an ambulance siren."
textiles  2012  amormuñoz  mexico  df  mexicodf  economics  minimumwage  pay  labor  maquiladoras  mobilemaquiladora  art  technology  society  activism  mexicocity 
january 2013 by robertogreco

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