In answer to any lackwit who’s ever asked any variation of “What’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?”
It comes as no surprise to most people that a worker making minimum wage would have a difficult time being able to afford the rent. After all, minimum wage is, by definition, the lowest wage people in just about every profession can make. What makes this graphic shocking, however, is just how far out of reach the rent is in so many place. In Hawaii, a minimum wage worker must work 175 hours a week, 52 weeks a year to afford the rent. In Utah, it’s 77 hours per week, 52 weeks per year. Even in the most affordable place on the map, Puerto Rico, a worker cannot afford rent and utilities on a modest apartment working less than 55 hours per week, 52 weeks a year.
It is tempting to brush away these figures by saying that minimum wage isn’t meant to be a living wage, or that not everyone should try to rent a two-bedroom apartment. But as we note in our report, recent analysis shows that 78% of minimum wage workers work at least 20 hours per week, and 80% are at least 20 years old. So when we’re talking about minimum wage workers, we’re not talking about high school kids in after-school jobs. And with the economy in the shape it’s in, we know that many of these minimum wage workers are people who would work better, higher-paying jobs if they could, but those jobs are just not available to them.