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The Revolving Door of Minimum Wage Work

Nick Englehart

Posted on October 24, 2019 15:39

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The Minimum wage job used to be where young people went for a little extra money. Now it is the reality of life for millions of Americans trapped in a cycle of abuse.

Just graduated with your creative arts degree? Maybe you majored in theater with a minor in communications? Despite your ever-increasing college debt, you don’t qualify for anything except insurance sales? Look no further than part-time minimum wage work! It's the solution to all of your problems. Your parents still pay for your healthcare and that new city you moved to has fantastic public transportation. All you need to survive is a minimum wage job!

When you’re a young upstart looking to break in you have to pay your dues. There’s the promise that if you work hard enough you’ll be successful. In the meantime, you have to pick up the part of society no one else is interested in. In 2017 the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 80.5 million workers worked for an hourly wage. Though it’s hard to measure through statistics a large amount of these workers are likely underemployed.

Erik Sherman from Forbes reports, “People who are underemployed, typically in lower-paying positions, become a wage buffer for employers. Rather than hire more people and, in the face of competition, offer more money, they can provide additional hours to part-time people who badly want more work.”

These jobs are alluded to as great for young upstarts and creative types as they allow freedom of personal choice and a flexible schedule. Despite an abundance of new ways to make money, it doesn’t seem like the worker has been granted more freedom.

I walked into a grocery store to buy dinner. I had just moved to Los Angeles and was looking for a part-time job to pay the rent. They were hiring. I grabbed an application and the next day I was given 200 produce codes to memorize for my test the following Wednesday. If I passed I’d enter training. Spending hours of my own unpaid time I memorized those codes and next Wednesday was orientation. There I was told I could expect 25 and 35 hours a week. They pointed out all of the benefits I would not receive as a part-time employee. The next day was the start of my forty-hour Thursday through Monday training. I was thrown into the mix with minimal oversight. The next week my schedule increased to 47 hours. The week after 45.5 hours. I brought up my wish to have fewer hours but they said no.

If I stay at this job I won’t have a single holiday or request for time off granted. I have no sick days and at any time within the first three months, I could be fired without possible recourse. Customers yell at me, throw their change, flip off and curse at staff. This is not an anomaly. Whether it's a stepping stone to your ideal career or a contingent factor in your life, when you have to survive on the least you better be prepared to give up the most. They know you don’t have a choice.

Nick Englehart

Posted on October 24, 2019 15:39

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Source: HuffPost
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Union leaders say the new minimum wage at Disney World could help lift up low-wage workers across Orlando.

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