Low-wage work is often what’s available to many Americans. What happens when it doesn’t pay the bills?
In Hawaii, Governor Neil Abercrombie wants to increase the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.75. According to Hawaii News Now, the governor introduced the proposal in his state of the state address, saying, “‘Minimum wage earners provide immediate infusion of dollars into the economy. Everyone is worthy of their labor. Industry and corporations do not lack for support in these halls. Neither should those who work the hardest for the least return.'” The article notes that Hawaii’s $31.68-per-hour housing wage means decent housing is out of reach for many workers in Hawaii’s service-driven economy. Many Hawaii residents interviewed for the article discuss the difficulty of getting by in their state, with one noting that having two or three jobs is the norm for many Hawaiians.
The situation can be particularly dire for the elderly. An article in The Nation profiles elderly homeless women in San Francisco and the inadequate social supports available to them. Skyrocketing rents, cuts to services and an aging population mean an increasing number of seniors spending their golden years in homeless shelters and on the streets.