I have spent a lot of the past decade as a single mom, struggling to make ends meet. Not too long ago, I was making just over minimum wage, about eight dollars an hour, newly single with a 6-year-old trying to find appropriate housing after my marriage failed. No matter how I tried there was no way I could afford $900 to $1,000 a month for rent. I had a car payment for a car that wasn’t even safe but was my only way to get to work. My daughter and I were on food stamps and Mainecare. At one point, I was evicted and had to stay in the homeless shelter for a while until we could get help with a down payment for an apartment. The whole time I was working full time. I am finally going back to school so I can someday have a job that pays better.
Raising the minimum wage to $12 would help thousands of single moms. You cannot afford to have a place to live, electricity, food, health care, and a way to commute for only $7.50/hr. If you work 40 hours a week after taxes that is only $250/week or about $1000/month! If you are paying $900 a month for rent and $50 a month for electricity, that leaves you about $50 a month for food (because your food stamps won’t last all month) or laundry, or transportation because there are only a few cities that have public transportation. I know that I’m not alone. Economic fairness means that all families can get a fair shot at making a decent living and never need to choose between paying rent and feeding their kids.