Imagine you are a single parent and you make the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
Normally full-time day care is at least $150 a week, but let's lowball and say you pay $50. Now, add in your gas, say you spend $50 a week on gas.
Next, you have utilities. If you are lucky water is covered by your landlord. Your electric is anywhere from $45-$100 a month depending on the temperature outside. So we'll halve it — that's around $74 a month which equals about $18 a week.
Food? You make minimum wage and have a kid so thank you food stamps. Your place is run down and not in a good school district, but it's the cheapest you could find. It's $600 a month. These are your basic expenses, shelter, heat and child care. These come to $268 a week.
If you are able to work 40 hours a week you're bringing home $290 a week, that leaves you $22 a week.
You have a growing child. You have to buy clothes, shoes, Christmas and birthday presents. What if your car breaks down? Can you honestly even afford a car?
I am one of 19 people who did not get to give testimony on raising the minimum wage in Fayette County at the Urban County Government's budget and finance committee hearing. I am a single parent. In Fayette County a single parent with one child must earn $21.93 per hour to stay above the poverty line.
I personally don't make the minimum wage. If I average it out, I make about $15 an hour and I work an average of 30 hours a week. I'm a server. I make tips. Still, the only time I've felt financially comfortable was when I was working 70-plus hours a week. I shouldn't have to choose between supporting or seeing my child.
My hourly pay has been $2.13 an hour since the 1980s. It means I owe the state and federal government at the end of the year because my paychecks aren't enough to even cover my taxes. When I get my checks they say "Void This is Not a Check" because I don't get to keep any of it.
Raising the overall minimum wage won't personally affect me, other than the way it'll affect all businesses. It'll put more money in my pocket by putting more money in other workers' pockets. When the people have enough money to buy products, the economy will flourish. We are already at the mercy of our employers in this state. They can fire us for basically any reason, at any time. If you make $7.25 an hour, you have no savings.
If you get fired you start at zero with no way of bringing in any more income. Give us a fighting chance. Making $7.25 condemns families to generations of poverty. You can't afford shoes, so how can you afford tutors, private schools or college?
Tuition for the University of Kentucky is going up three percent next year. Are you serious? Better strap on your cleats and pick a sport. It's the only way you're going anywhere, son."
Raising the minimum wage isn't about the economy; it's about people. If you think anyone can survive off of $7.25 an hour you've never had to. If you think anyone should work 40 hours a week and not be able to support themselves, you've never worked a day in your life.
In the end this is an issue of compassion. Show some mercy on the hardworking people of our beautiful city. Raise the wage to $10.10 immediately.