November 17, 2022 |

This Is What It’s Like To Live On Less Than $15 An Hour

BuzzFeed News — When Tara Thompson, a 44-year-old mother of two, began working at a Dollar General in Holly Hill, South Carolina, in December 2021, she made $11.75 an hour, a bump up from the $9.50 she previously made at McDonald’s. Her paychecks amounted to around $1,500 a month if she clocked in at least 32 hours each week which she expected. Combined with the income from her partner, who made a slightly higher wage from his job at a payment processing company, Thompson calculated that the pair earned just enough to cover their $3,000 in monthly expenses.

“Eleven an hour is not enough money for anyone to live off, but we had to find a way to make it work,” she said. The 1st of the month brings a $1,100 mortgage payment on the house she shares with her partner. Her $800 car payment comes due on the 5th. Light and gas are a combined $275, due by the end of the month. Gas for her daily commute to work accumulates to around $400. School supplies and clothes for her growing kids add to the monthly expenses, as does insurance. “At the end of the day,” she said, “I have to have my lights, I have to be able to feed my kids, I have to have gas to get back and forth to work.”

But her new job didn’t offer consistent hours. In fact, the managers in charge of scheduling shifts never assigned Thompson more than 22 hours a week, and sometimes it was as few as 15, leaving her with weekly paychecks hovering between $150 and $250. Her 45-year-old sister Taiwanna Milligan, who also worked at the store, said she was rarely assigned more than 16 hours a week, and was only able to work more than 20 if a coworker had to miss a shift. Keisha Brown, a 38-year-old mother of two who made $15 an hour as the store’s assistant manager and expected to work 40 hours a week, said she usually clocked around 30. “I’m one of the hardest-working people, but you wouldn’t know based on my paycheck,” Brown said. “They don’t want to pay you the hours.” 

Full story at BuzzFeed News.

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