angry, and broke, in Idaho

Our marketing manager just sent out this report to all the staff.  We deal with professional technical education, displaced homemakers, non-traditional workers (ie, woman going into welding or automotive – or a man going into nursing)…

The report is called “The Race for Wages – Living Wage Jobs in the Current Economy:  2007 Northwest Job Gap Study.” 

To give an example of what they found in Idaho, with respect to my family, here is the quote:

“Sixty-four percent of current jobs pay less than a living wage for two adults (both working) with two children ($31,257 a year or $15.03 an hour for each adult).  This is likely a conservative estimate, since both adults need to find a job at or above this wage to meeting [spelling error in report] living wage standards.” (p. 6)

Here’s perspective on this:  I make $13.57 an hour, working 40 hours per week.  Todd makes $11.33 an hour, working 24 hours per week (and he’s been looking for extra work for several months, in order to help out).  Todd is a student, so we have some assistance via financial aid.  We couldn’t survive at this point if we didn’t have his family helping with childcare.

A lovely woman I know is a single mom with a son in kindergarten.  According to the report, she would need to be making $18.77 per hour in order to be achieving a “livable” wage.  The childcare program at our school will be closed for Christmas vacation and she’s going to have her son come hang out at our place because otherwise she would have to pay for childcare.  I guarantee that she’s not making almost $19 an hour at her job.  How on earth is she making do?

Rents are not cheap here, especially if you need space for children (and I mean even a small amount of space)…  Gas is crazy.  Food costs have gone up.  Medical costs have gone up.

And there are CEO’s making astonomical sums.  Do you know how many people those salaries could support?

Ahh, but then come the cries of socialism, right?

Is it capitalism when a normal, hard-working family can’t support itself?  Is that what it means?  No wait.  I know.  We’re talking economic principles here and they aren’t supposed to take into account what might be right or wrong, they are simply scientific measurements and assessments of a system. 

Here’s irony too… I am college-educated.  I have my bachelor’s degree.  As one friend said, there are a lot of degreed folks out there, waitressing and serving coffee.  A friend who graduated in May has been looking and applying since March.  And here’s even bigger irony – he got his degree in Economics!  He got to the final round of interviewing just recently, only to be told that hiring was frozen while the company waited to see what was happening with the economy.

64% of jobs here pay less than a livable wage for two-worker families with two children.  36% pay less than a livable wage just for single workers. (p. 6)

I haven’t even gotten into the numbers for minorities.  They are even worse.  Welcome to the American Dream.

I’ve got an idea for a fund-raiser:  It’s called “Sink the CEO.”  Can you imagine how good it would feel to dunk ’em hard?  Hell, I’d live on Ramen for a week in order to pay for a few turns.

So yeah.  I’m pissed off.  It’s nothing I didn’t know already, but it’s sad when the information is there in black and white, where you can’t hide from it.

grumpily yours,


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