By Emma Pettersen DeWitt, N.Y. NCC News This week politicians and organizers all over upstate New York are participating in the Minimum Wage Challenge. They will live off of $97 for food, transportation, and other amenities to bring attention to the challenges of living on the minimum wage.
Sam Young, a DeWitt Board Member, is participating in the challenge in support of Governor Cuomo’s push to bring the minimum wage up to $15 per hour.
“By raising the minimum wage over several phased increases to an eventual $15 an hour, minimum wage workers will be able to support their families with dignity without relying on public benefits like food stamps and Medicaid to make ends meet”, said Young.
Young’s family of three is living on one minimum wage salary this week. On Monday he and his wife bought the week’s groceries and began to see the restrictions of their new budget.
“We had to make some different choices then we would have otherwise made. We found ourselves buying a lot fewer fresh fruits and vegetables, we bought canned goods as opposed to fresh, we bought frozen as opposed to fresh fish and got our proteins from vegetable proteins like beans as opposed to animal proteins”, said Young.
A minimum wage worker who works 40 hours per week earns $360. After paying rent, taxes, childcare and other costs the average person is left with $19 a day.
“Later in the week they encourage you to do a social event like going to a movie or out to dinner and I’m not really sure how someone on a minimum wage salary at $9 an hour affords to do those things”, said Young.
While the challenges of living on the minimum wage are personal, Young says raising the minimum wage would benefit the entire state.
“At a $15 minimum wage, workers are raised out of poverty and will have the money they need to support their families. This means more dollars spent in the community at local businesses and merchants and that ultimately translates to more jobs and a better economy”, said Young.