By Barbara Gertz, 9to5 member, Commerce City, Colorado
When the recession hit, I watched as the construction business that supported my husband and I vanished before our eyes. I knew I needed to do something so I took a job at Walmart to help us make ends meet. While I make a higher hourly wage than many of my coworkers, my husband and I struggled to get by on my salary. There were days I missed work simply because I couldn’t afford the gas to get there.
And I’m not alone. Low-wage jobs are at the center of America’s economy today. Nearly 58 percent of all jobs created post-recession were low-wage occupations in retail, fast food, and other low-paying industries. The latest research suggests these same jobs will be some of the largest-growing occupations in the country over the next decade.
Raising the minimum wage will benefit some 17 million women like my coworkers and help to raise many families out of poverty. It’s not just a Walmart issue. It’s not just a women’s issue. Raising the minimum wage is an American issue and something we should all stand for.
I’m luckier than many since my husband is now back to work and we have caught up financially. Without the dual income, we’d be back to making hard choices between how many meals we eat, paying a bill, or gas in the car. That’s why I’m working with 9to5 to build support for the Fair Minimum Wage Act.
I grew up in an era that believed in an honest wage for an honest day’s work. Every worker should have the dignity and pride of supporting their family without government aid. Congress gets a raise every year yet they want the working class to justify a raise that would be only the third in as many decades. It’s time for a raise.