Despite working six days a week, Marion, 37, a single mother of two, can’t make ends meet on the $9.50 an hour she gets at Popeyes (no apostrophe – founder Al Copeland joked he was too poor to afford one). A fast food worker for 22 years, Marion has almost always had a second job. Until recently, she had been working 9am-4pm at Popeyes, without a break, then crossing town to a janitorial job at Bartle Hall, the convention center, where she would work from 5pm- to 1.30am for $11 an hour. She didn’t take breaks there either, although they were allowed.
The math here is very odd.
This woman works for 7 hours a day, 6 days a week at Popeyes. Then, she worked as a janitor for, let's say, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.
(7 * 6 * $9.5) + (8 * 5 * $11) = $839 per week
Assuming that she takes one month off in the year, she is still making $40,000 annually!
Even with those two jobs, Marion was unable to save – and when disaster struck she found it impossible to cope financially. Last month, the city condemned the house she rented – the landlord had refused to fix faulty wiring and the leaking roof – and she was made homeless.
She couldn't save for emergencies when her income was over $3,000 a month!? She is not poor because of circumstances. She is poor because of bad choices. Her income puts her in the top 1% on the global scale. She ought to be able to cover the bare necessities for herself and her two kids.
“My family is not benefiting. I’m working so hard to come home, and still I have to decide whether I am going to put food on the table or am I going to pay the light bill, or pay rent.
“It makes me feel like a peasant. In a way it’s slavery. It’s economic slavery.”
Relevant monthly numbers for my area in Canada:
- $1,100 for two-bedroom apartment (water cost included)
- $900 for food for three people
- $100 for electricity
- $50 for 50mbps DSL internet
That's $2,150 per month. That's Canadian dollars. It'll be roughly $1,800 in the US.
Again, I'm not saying that she'll be living like royalty but she should be covering basic needs. If she thinks that her situation is "slavery", then she ought to learn about countries where tens of millions of people can't crack $1,000 in a year.