Valley Works: Minimum Wage Jobs

September 2, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
As we celebrate the American worker on Labor Day many are finding it hard to make ends meet. There is a huge effort underway across the country to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.50 an hour to $9 an hour.

California's minimum wage is $8 an hour, a little bit more than the federal, but even at that rate trying to live off that income proves to be a struggle for many workers.

It is the end of the month and Catholic Charities in Fresno is a noisy, busy place, 31-year-old Brandi Blanco is here for one reason.

"To get food, its low end of the month," Blanco said.

"The average family of four that we serve here at catholic charities makes less than $8,000 a year." Kelly Lillies Director of the Catholic Charities said.

Lilles, describes her clientele as being hard working, prideful and just a little embarrassed. Brandi Blanco wants people to know what it's like living off a minimum wage salary of $8 an hour.

"Trying to survive, you get your rent paid, your PG&E, you get your bills, but when your kids need a new pair of shoes or you run out of toilet paper, it's just not there, the money is just not there at all," Blanco said.

At $8 an hour a full-time minimum wage worker in California earns $320 a week or approximately $1,280 a month, this is before taxes. When you start deducting expenses for an adult and one child you get $840 for housing, $550 for childcare, $555 for transportation, and just with these expenses you are already at $1,945 and you haven't included food, utilities or medical.

"It's very hard, stressful, sometimes I need to try and sit back and relax and forget about all the bills piling up because it's paycheck by paycheck," Shannon Burch, a minimum wage earner said.

Shannon Burch, 24, is a student at Fresno Pacific University and a few months away from getting her BA Degree, although she has an AA degree and certificates in child development, her job at a pre-school pays minimum wage

"I never really see a dollar for myself it all goes to the bills that need to be paid and keep a roof over our heads," Burch said.

Burch gets assistance from her neighborhood church, United Faith Christian fellowship in Southeast Fresno. Yammilette Rodriguez founded the ministry called My Sister's Closet, which provides professional clothing for working women, and much more.

"In order for us to help people go along we had to say what else can we provide for them, so we can help them land that position we had to provide career development component," Rodriguez said.

Along with the food and clothing My Sisters Closet is working to provide people with the skills to move out of poverty and out of minimum wage jobs.

"In order to make a heavy impact in this community to change where we are at it takes organizations to come together, it takes communities to come together to help your fellow brother," Rodriguez said.


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