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Minnesota Lawmaker Will Live on Minimum Wage

This is a cross-post, by Aruna Jain, from Working America's blog Main Street

As legislation to raise the minimum wage to $9.95 makes its way through the Minnesota Legislature, Rep. Jason Metsa (D) is taking up Working America’s challenge to live on Minnesota’s current minimum wage for five days. Says Metsa:

I can’t possibly know the reality of the day-to-day struggles faced by people living on minimum wage, which is currently $7.25/hour. But as H.F. 92 is considered by my fellow lawmakers, this is an attempt to better understand an economic situation most of us have never been exposed to.

Despite old, debunked arguments by opponents of the bill, it is clear that raising wages speeds economic recovery, is good for small businesses and would help more than a half-million Minnesotans, many of whom are Working America’s nearly 300,000 members in Minnesota. The bill includes raising the wage for tipped workers—who often are left behind in discussions on minimum wage.

“It’s been very difficult to live on minimum wage,” said Working America member Avita Samuels, who works at the Mall of America and lives in St. Paul. “I appreciate these efforts to highlight what it’s like for workers like us.”

Using the Jobs Now Coalition’s cost-of-living expenses breakdown for an individual, with no children, living on minimum wage, Metsa will spend the week going to work, planning a budget, grocery shopping, meeting with constituents and figuring out how to budget his transportation costs. His experiences will be documented through regular updates on social media and elsewhere.

“People are struggling to piece together two or three jobs at $7.25 an hour and they still aren’t making ends meet,” said Working America State Director Bree Halverson. “We’d like to raise awareness about this issue in a way people will pay attention to.”

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