06-18-2018  12:36 pm      •     
The Skanner Report
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NEWS BRIEFS

MRG Foundation Announces Spring 2018 Grantees

Recipients include Oregon DACA Coalition, Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe, Komemma Cultural Protection Association ...

CareOregon Awards $250,000 for Housing Projects

Recipients include Rogue Retreat, Bridges to Change, Luke Dorf, Transition Projects and Bridge Meadows ...

The Honorable Willie L. Brown to Receive NAACP Spingarn Medal

The award recognizes Brown’s lifelong commitment to the community, equality and civil rights ...

Watching Oprah: The Oprah Winfrey Show and American Culture

New Smithsonian exhibit looks at how Oprah Winfrey shaped American culture and vice versa ...

Oregon Historical Society, Oregon Black Pioneers Host ‘Celebrate History and Make a Difference Now!’ Event June 9

Representatives from local organizations will talk about how individuals can get involved in promoting social change ...

Grants Pass man, 39, drowns in Rogue River

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — The Josephine County sheriff says a Grants Pass man drowned in the Rogue River.Sheriff Dave Daniel says it happened Saturday afternoon when 39-year-old James Dawson tried to swim to shore after his watercraft quit working. He was not wearing a life jacket.Crews...

Some forest trails remain closed long after 2017 wildfire

IDAHHA, Ore. (AP) — Some trails in Oregon's Willamette National Forest remain closed due to damage from a wildfire that ripped through the area last year.The Register-Guard reports the Whitewater Trail into the Jefferson Park area remains closed. Other trails, including some in the Fall...

UW to pay 7K to settle Republicans' free-speech lawsuit

SEATTLE (AP) — The University of Washington will pay 7,000 to settle a lawsuit filed after the college billed a Republican club security fees for a rally.The UW College Republicans sued, saying the bill for ,000 to cover security costs for the campus event violated free-speech and...

Old farm warehouse may be saved as part of Hanford history

RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) — One of Washington state's most endangered historic places is located on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland. That's according to the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.The long warehouse along the Columbia River was once owned by farmers Paul and Mary...

OPINION

What Happened? Assessing the Singapore Summit

For all its weaknesses, we are better off having had the summit than not ...

Redlining Settlement Fails to Provide Strong Penalties

A recent settlement of a federal redlining lawsuit is yet another sign that justice is still being denied ...

5 Lessons on Peace I Learned from My Cat Soleil

Dr. Jasmine Streeter takes some cues on comfort from her cat ...

Research Suggests Suicides By Racial and Ethnic Minorities are Undercounted

Sociologist Dr. Kimya Dennis describes barriers to culturally-specific suicide research and treatment ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Greece: 2 face racism charges over beatings of immigrants

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek police say they have arrested one suspected extreme nationalist and are seeking a second as suspects in a pair of attacks on immigrants in Athens.A police statement issued Monday said the suspects allegedly attacked two Pakistanis on Friday, stole a mobile phone...

Redistricting changes headed to the ballot in several states

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling Monday on redistricting lawsuits in Wisconsin and Maryland comes as several states already are considering changes to the criteria and processes that will be used to draw legislative districts after the 2020 Census.In most places, the state legislature and governor are...

States' redistricting plans facing challenges in court

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to block the use of legislative districts in Wisconsin and Maryland in separate cases that had alleged unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering. Instead, the high court allowed lower courts to continue considering the claims.The cases are among several that...

ENTERTAINMENT

Review: 'Jurassic World 2' leans on nostalgia, contrivances

Here's the good news: "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom " is more fun than "Jurassic World." It's not exactly a high bar, but still a welcome surprise. In the hands of a new director, J.A. Bayona, with Chris Pratt's high-wattage charisma on full blast and a fair amount of self-aware humor intact,...

'Incredibles 2' crushes animation record with 0 million

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The combined powers of superheroes, the Pixar brand and a drought of family-friendly films helped "Incredibles 2" become the best animated opening of all time, the biggest PG-rated launch ever and the 8th highest film launch overall.Disney estimated Sunday that the film...

AFI highlights Clooney's life of acting, activism and pranks

LOS ANGELES (AP) — George Clooney's Hollywood career spans more than three decades, with memorable roles including fighting vampires, playing Batman and drifting through space in "Gravity." But Clooney's other accomplishments, including directing, screenwriting and activism, led to him...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Puerto Rico struggles with jump in asthma cases post-Maria

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Shortly after he turned 2, Yadriel Hernandez started struggling to breathe....

Apple sets up iPhones to relay location for 911 calls

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Apple is trying to drag the U.S.'s antiquated system for handling 911 calls into the...

Compulsive video-game playing could be mental health problem

GENEVA (AP) — Obsessive video gamers know how to anticipate dangers in virtual worlds. The World Health...

Israel PM, Jordan king meet after months of strained ties

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Jordan's King Abdullah II that he is...

Geraldine McCaughrean wins Carnegie children's book prize

LONDON (AP) — British writer Geraldine McCaughrean has won the prestigious Carnegie Medal for children's...

Greek far-right lawmaker arrested on treason-linked charges

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek anti-terrorism police arrested an extreme far-right lawmaker on treason-linked...

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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