This past weekend I had an interview with the manager at my gym for a position as a front desk attendant. For those who don’t know, there’s typically a person who stands at the info desk near the entrance to the gym and is responsible for greeting people.
The other job responsibilities include, as I discovered Sunday, cleaning, running the cash register, and answering the phones. No sales, no membership discussion, and “no stress”. It really would be the perfect side gig for me to pick up a shift here or there for some extra spending cash. Right?! But there’s a catch. The pay.
“Minimum wage”, he says. “Our hands are tied on this one and it’s dictated by corporate”. When he said that I just smiled and nodded because that’s what you do in a job interview.
So what is minimum wage in Nebraska? Nine dollars an hour. NINE DOLLARS AN HOUR. What??
My first jobs in the 90’s were all minimum wage. One was a waitress which was 2.15 an hour plus tips. The others were 4.25 I think. When I moved to Nevada, I landed a gig at the Treasure Island Hotel that was 75 cents above the minimum which I believe was around 5 bucks an hour. That was 1993.
That means, boys and girls, that in 24 years, the minimum wage has only been raised by about 4 dollars. This varies from state to state, but not by much.
There is no way in Hell that this increase covers or matches the cost of living increases that have also happened in the last 20+ years. Plus, the government is also taking a much bigger cut for taxes than ever before. And don’t even get me started about the extra cost of healthcare.
I’ve done the calculations recently looking at tax brackets and figuring in things like social security and Medicare. It’s out of control. For a person making a 9 dollar an hour wage, about 20% is going to come right off the top, leaving about $7.20 for “take home”.
For someone working 50 hours a week, which they would have to do just to survive, it comes out to less than 20K a year. That’s just insanity.
The intent of minimum wage is supposed to be a wage a person can live on. It’s not intended to be a supplemental or student wage. A person entering the work force as an unskilled laborer should be able to pay for housing, transportation, and food. And perhaps that’s possible, but there is no way for anyone to save or plan ahead for emergencies or, god forbid, other things that increase their quality of life like vacations or entertainment.
It makes me wonder how people who earn minimum wage do that. It also makes me wonder how corporations get away with that as an offering or policy. I mean I know how and why they do it. The bottom line is King and as long as people accept it, they will keep doing it.
What I’m really asking is how do the people dictating these policies sleep at night? Do they have no conscience? Have they gone so far in their own life that they have forgotten what it’s like to be at the beginning? Perhaps they started from a place of privilege and have never been there at all. In any case, it’s sickening.
I’m fortunate enough to not have to live on minimum wage. I’ve come a long way myself, and truthfully did not realize this was a thing until I started looking into it.
This job at the gym would be perfect for me (if I had the spare hours, which I probably won’t). However, I can’t, in good conscience, work for a company that refuses to give what is probably 20% of their work force any more than the minimum. Shame on them.
The person I talked with on Sunday is supposed to call me today to let me know if they want to hire me. I’m ready.. “No thanks!”.