One hundred fifteen hours.
That is the number of hours you would have to work per week in California at minimum wage to be able to afford the average rent without spending more than the recommended 30 percent of your income on it, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
To put that in perspective, you would have to work about 35 hours per week, almost a full-time job, making minimum wage just to pay the average cost of rent.
Simply put, minimum wage is too low and must be raised to a living wage.
The value of minimum wage peaked in 1968 and ever since minimum wage earners have effectively lost purchasing power, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).
If the minimum wage had followed the rate of inflation, it would be $10.10 nationwide.
This would not just help teenagers, as common rhetoric would have you think. Teenage workers only account for 24 percent of minimum wage earners, according to the Pew Research
A $10.10 minimum wage would raise the wages of women of all colors with latina women constituting the largest demographic of minimum wage earners, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
It would also improve the wages of 4.7 million working moms, 1/5 of all working moms, and 7 million working parents total, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
It also could improve the growing number of service sector workers, which accounted for 76 percent of job growth between 1996 and 2005, according to Michael Zweig’s book “The Working Class Majority.”
Mayor Eric Garcetti recently proposed raising the state minimum wage to $13.25 per hour by 2017. While this is a step in the right direction, working people in the state and nationwide need to go further.
Inflation is not the only factor to have changed, production rate has as well.
At that peak in 1968, production was 53 percent of what it is today according to the CEPR.
Not only are workers making less per hour compared to 1968, but they are also much more efficient and produce more per hour.
If the production increase was factored in to the minimum wage, workers would be making $21.72 per hour according to the CEPR.
But instead this increase in profit went solely into the bosses’ pockets rather than the workers who created the means to make that profit.
While $21 per hour might be a ways off, working people should join the fight for $15, stand in solidarity with low wage workers and demand a decent living wage for all.