05-20-2018  10:59 am      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

Raina Croff to Speak at Architectural Heritage Center

'When the Landmarks are Gone: Older African Americans, Place, and Change in N/NE Portland’ describes SHARP Walking Program ...

Portland Playhouse Presents August Wilson’s ‘Fences’ Through June 10

May 20 performance will include discussion on mental health; June 10 performance will be followed by discussion of fatherhood ...

Peggy Houston-Shivers Presents Benefit Concert for Allen Temple CME

Concert to take place May 20 at Maranatha Church ...

Family Friendly Talent Show, May 18

Family Fun Night series continues at Matt Dishman Community Center ...

US Marshals, police arrest Vermont fugitive in Oregon

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The U.S. Marshals Service says a missing sex offender from Vermont has been arrested in Oregon.The Marshals say 55-year-old James Rivers was arrested May 16 in Cottage Grove, Oregon, by deputy marshals and local police. It's unclear if he has an attorney.Authorities...

Oregon State study says it's OK to eat placenta after all

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — First experts said eggs are bad for you, then they say it's OK to eat them. Is red wine good for your heart or will it give you breast cancer?Should you eat your placenta?Conflicting research about diets is nothing new, but applying the question to whether new mothers...

State sees need to reduce elk damage in the Skagit Valley

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (AP) — Elk are easy to spot against the green backdrop of the Skagit Valley, where much of the resident North Cascades elk herd that has grown to an estimated 1,600 is found.For farmers in the area — especially those who grow grass for their cattle or to sell to...

Famed mini sub's control room to become future exhibit

BREMERTON, Wash. (AP) — The U.S. Naval Undersea Museum at Keyport has a new addition to its archives — the salvaged control room of the legendary, one-of-a-kind Cold War-era miniature submersible NR-1.Adm. Hyman G. Rickover, the father of the nuclear Navy, conceived the idea for the...

OPINION

Golfing While Black Is Not a Crime

Grandview Golf Club asks five Black women to leave for golfing too slow ...

Discovering the Best of Black America in 2018

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis discusses the DTU Journalism Fellowship & Scholarship Program ...

Will Israel’s Likud Party Ever Respect the Rights of Palestinians?

Bill Fletcher weighs in on the precarious future of the two-state solution between the Israeli government and the Palestinian people ...

The Future of Medicinal Marijuana in Pets

Dr. Jasmine Streeter says CBD-derived products show beneficial therapeutic benefits for pets ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

2018 midterms: An early heat for 2020 Democrats?

ATLANTA (AP) — Look closely enough at the 2018 midterm campaign and you'll see the stirrings of a Democratic scramble to reclaim the White House from President Donald Trump.The leading players — from established national figures such as former Vice President Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders...

Northern states taking down vestiges of racism, intolerance

DETROIT (AP) — A nearly 80-year-old statue depicting a European settler with a weapon in his hand towering over a Native American that some say celebrates white supremacy has been dismantled by crews in southwestern Michigan's Kalamazoo.And at the University of Michigan, regents have voted...

Guess who's coming to Windsor? Royal ceremony weds cultures

BURLINGTON, New Jersey (AP) — With a gospel choir, black cellist and bishop, Oprah, Serena and Idris Elba in the audience and an African-American mother-of-the-bride, Saturday's wedding of Prince Harry to American actress Meghan Markle was a blend of the solemn and the soulful.Guess who's...

ENTERTAINMENT

'13 Reasons Why' premiere canceled after Texas shooting

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Netflix canceled the premiere party for its second season of the teen drama "13 Reasons Why" because of a school shooting near Houston.The streaming service announced the cancellation hours before the scheduled premiere and red carpet event, citing the Friday morning...

'Shoplifters' wins Palme d'Or, grand prize to Spike Lee

A tumultuous Cannes Film Festival concluded Saturday with the Palme d'Or awarded to Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda's "Shoplifters," a tender portrait of a poor, impoverished family, while Harvey Weinstein accuser Asia Argento vowed justice will come to all sexual predators.At the closing...

'Jurassic Park' dinosaur expert's next big thing: holograms

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Forget the gray, green and brown dinosaurs in the "Jurassic Park" movies. Paleontologist Jack Horner wants to transport people back in time to see a feathered Tyrannosaurus rex colored bright red and a blue triceratops with red fringe similar to a rooster's comb.Horner,...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

'Deadpool 2' ends Avengers' box-office reign, rakes in 5M

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Deadpool and his foul-mouthed crew of misfits and malcontents have taken down the...

Iraq's al-Sadr, promising reform, is constrained by Iran

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq's Muqtada al-Sadr, the maverick Shiite cleric whose political coalition beat out Iran's...

Company in Cuba plane crash had received safety complaints

HAVANA (AP) — The Mexican charter company whose 39-year-old plane crashed in Havana had been the subject of...

Palestinian publicly sets himself on fire in Gaza

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — A 20-year-old Palestinian is in critical condition after publicly setting...

Iran says EU political support not enough, urges investment

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's state TV is reporting that the country's foreign minister has urged the European...

The Latest: Maduro's challengers criticize 'red points'

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The Latest on Sunday's presidential election in Venezuela (all times local):1:01...

Julianne Malveaux NNPA Columnist

Last week, workers at fast food restaurants demonstrated outside their places of work, highlighting the low wages they receive and demanding more. They say twice as much, or $15 an hour, will provide them with a living wage.  In Washington, D.C., the City Council has sent legislation to Mayor Vincent Gray requiring "big box" stores such as Wal-Mart and Best Buy to pay $12.50, which is more than the D.C. minimum wage of $8.25 an hour.  In response, Wal-Mart says it may not build all of the six stores it had slated for D.C.  Responses depend on whom you talk to, with some of the unemployed saying that an $8.25 job is better than no job, and others saying that $8.25 is not a living wage.

Let's do the math.

Someone who earns $8.25 an hour (which is a dollar more an hour than the federal minimum wage) earns $17,160 per year if they work full time (40 hours) all year (52 weeks).  Although taxes for the low income are low, they are still deducted, especially the Social Security tax (about 7 percent).  Too many minimum workers don't work full-time, full-year.  Many have their hours cut so that companies can avoid paying benefits.  This means full time, full year work is the best-case scenario.  For many, it can be much worse.

The poverty line for one adult and two children is $19,530, which puts the $8.25 worker below the poverty line.  The parent who earns this scant wage struggles to make ends meet, and often cannot.  Too often, this parent has to choose between transportation and shoes for their children, between children's books and food.   A two-parent family has a higher poverty threshold of $23,550, about 20 percent more than the minimum wage worker earns.

Federal and state supplements often make the difference between swimming and sinking.  Many families who live below the poverty line use supplemental nutrition programs (formerly called food stamps) to enhance their food budget.  Congress is in the process of cutting SNAP so low that 5 million of the roughly 47 million people on the program will be cut.  Some receive medical assistance through Medicaid.  Some cities subsidize summer programs or other efforts, offering day care possibilities for those who struggle to afford it.  According to the Economic Policy Institute, the average cost of childcare in the District of Columbia is $1,300 a month, or $13,600 a year.  Poverty line $23,550, childcare costs $13,600 per year.  Go figure.

In other parts of the country, full-time, full year workers earn less than D.C. workers.  Those who earn the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour earn $15,160 per year, less than the poverty line for one parent and one child.  Those who earn $12.50 per hour, the proposed wage for D.C. big box stores, will earn $26,000 a year.  The $15 an hour that some fast food workers suggest would push their wages to $31,200 a year.

Some feel these low wages are acceptable, especially some Tea Party members of Congress, yet they earn at least $174,000 per year.  Actually, if fast food workers were as productive as this Congress (which has produced little of nothing so far this year), they wouldn't earn a penny.  Yet those who are well paid and well supported show little empathy for those whose lives and work are daily struggles.

The issue of unemployment must be taken into account when we look at the matter of poverty lines and minimum wages.  With an overall unemployment rate of 7.4 percent and a Black unemployment rate of 12,6 percent as of July, too many households with two adults have only one earner in the household.  Another concern is that the federal poverty line is published as a national rate, yet it's much cheaper to live, for example, in rural Mississippi than it does in New York City.  In many instances, the poverty line does not reflect differences in housing costs, health care costs, or even transportation costs.

The Economic Policy Institute (epi.org) has developed budgets for "adequate" living in certain cities.  (Full disclosure – I sit on the organization's board).  This tool shows the wide variety of realistic and adequate living costs, which range from more than $90,000 in New York City, to around $40,000 in parts of Mississippi.  These are adequate living standards, not extravagant ones, taking into account rent, transportation, and other costs.

Many quibble over the minimum wage, but the more relevant issue is the living wage.  Millions are pushed below the poverty line because too many employers do not take the cost of living into consideration when the set wage levels.  Paying workers less than they are worth drains our economy because these workers will not be spenders or "economic expanders."

 

Julianne Malveaux is a Washington, D.C.-based economist and writer.  She is President Emerita of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C.

 

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