I had dinner with a Seattle acquaintance last week who’d recently moved to Texas. She commented that she was shocked to learn that a waiter in Texas could get paid so little (as little as $2.13 per hour before tips). This got me thinking about Washington’s comparatively generous minimum wage of more than $9.00 per hour (it’s still not enough but is the highest in the country) and the social benefit that results from this amount.
At Bellwether we often talk about the benefits that our affordable apartments provide to our residents and throughout the community. One of these is economic: our residents can afford their rent and have more discretionary income to spend on groceries, clothing and other necessities. These purchases directly affect the local neighborhood and have a positive impact on businesses’ bottom line.
Now imagine what a difference a higher wage could make to an individual in addition to an affordable place to live. Economists often write about a “living wage”. But this term is really a misnomer as the wage is not adequate for a decent living. Rather, it covers only the very basic needs and leaves little (if anything) left over. With employment growing the most in the low-wage service industry more frustrated workers are making it clear that they need higher wages just to get by and as the article points out, all it takes are a few extra dollars an hour to equal a few thousand extra a year. And although this may seem like an expensive proposition, consider this report that explains the ripple effect of paying a worker more. The result is the same for those with higher wages and those residents who have affordable rent: more money is put back into the community.
So what would $5 more mean to you? Take a look at the links in this post and share your thoughts.