I have to gripe about something that I think many of my classmates and other students and working-class adults of any age, can relate to. My goal is to address the issue of fair wages and the cost of living in the United States.
This feels a little like a “first world problem” but it is one that I believe many can relate to. As I stated, I am like many, a working adult, returning to school, hoping to buy a house in the next ten years, and trying to save money while paying astronomical rent, paying for college (again) and changing my profession because my job in the healthcare industry wasn’t paying the bills for me.
I feel that the goals of my generation differ immensely from those of my parents, but there are still similarities. I will tell you I definitely never predicted ten years ago that I would finish one degree and then have to pursue another just for a little increase in pay (or hopefully more than a little; fingers crossed!) so I can afford rent on a single income, or that I would have to change careers multiple times by the time I turned thirty in pursuit of something that makes me happy or at the very least makes me not dread getting up in the morning. At the risk of sounding like a total millennial, why does it have to be so darn hard?!
Honestly, I would be thrilled to death with a tiny house, close to the city, with a little green space for my dog. It seems like now more than ever, that is a lot to ask. The housing market is especially challenging for my generation and those that follow, as there is a serious lack of habitable homes in a price range that is affordable for the average human, as wages are not increasing at the same rate as home values, rents and the cost of living.
The minimum wage in Minnesota recently rose to $9.65/hour. According to the Huffington Post, at this rate, the average American worker would need to log 117-hour weeks for 52 weeks per year to afford a two-bedroom apartment or rental home, in ANY state (known as the “fair market rent”).
My good friend finished her master’s degree over a year ago and makes $15/hour working for a major school district in the Twin Cities; she barely gets by with a small studio apartment that doesn’t even have a full kitchen, in St. Paul, in a slightly less-than-safe neighborhood, for a grand a month!
My hope is that more, frustrated individuals like myself, will join in the fight for fair wages, and eventually bridge the gap that exists between the poverty line, the working middle class and the (now less than) 1%.
I found it amusing, in our reading this week, Mendelson explains his belief that we don’t influence each other as much as we think we do, but more that the media influences us first and we just pass it along (Mendelson Chapter Ten, Page 62). I would have to agree with that statement. I think we need to speak more from personal experience in certain situations and just be truthful with ourselves and each other; cut the bullshit. Because I, for one, am fed up with living paycheck to paycheck while I work my tail off and throw 30% or more of my hard-earned income renting some dumpy place in St. Paul. I know I’m not alone and that is why I want more people to speak out and call it what it is.