Friday, December 08, 2006

From a cheery article about the recent strong performance of wages relative to inflation:

For now, though, with the number of unemployed Americans actively seeking work at a five-year low, help-wanted signs are proliferating again and many businesses are having a harder time finding employees.

That means even lower-wage workers like Mercedes Herrera, an immigrant from Mexico who cleans at San Felipe Plaza, a high-rise office building in Houston, are enjoying more leverage with their employers. Last month, Ms. Herrera’s union, the Service Employees International Union, settled a monthlong strike and secured raises of more than $2 an hour over the next two years for some 5,300 janitors in Houston.

The pay of Ms. Herrera, a 37-year-old mother of four, will increase to $6.25 an hour on Jan. 1, from $5.65 now. "It’s going to be a big difference in my personal finances," she said, speaking through a translator. With the extra money, she said, she hoped she would no longer have to ask for food from churches.
Jesus Christ. That's the saddest thing I've read in a week. "And what are you planning to use your raise for, Area Woman?" "Oh, you know... a small second home, a big-screen TV, maybe play the market a little. Oh, and I was thinking I might finally be able to afford food."

$6.25 x 2,080 hours: $13,000.
2006 federal poverty guideline for a family of five: $23,400.
Ms. Herrera's increased salary as a percentage of the federal poverty level: 55%.

Now that's a strong economy.

2 comments:

Eric said...

Actually, technically, to convert a wage to an equivalent salary, you should only multiply by 2000.

So $12,500 and 53.4% would be more accurate.

Mike said...

Actually, technically, BLS uses 2,080. But whether you use 2,000, 2,080, or 3,080, Herrera's clearly not making enough.