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Arguing the difference between minimum wage and living wage

We see them everywhere we go in Indiana, with their brightly colored signs and the smell of fryer oil floating on the breeze. We're talking of course about fast-food restaurants. It's no surprise to readers of our blog though, or anyone in America for that matter, that for as much business as these companies drum up in a year, their workers are still considered to be some of the most underpaid as well.

But while companies argue that they are following state wage and hour laws by paying their workers no less than minimum wage, workers have long argued that there is a difference between minimum wage and a living wage.

As with many fast-food workers in that state of Indiana, workers in this industry generally make the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Low page coupled with unsteady workweeks, many employees are finding themselves struggling to pay rent in a housing market that continues to improve with each passing year.

Many employment experts say that the problem lies in the organization of the workers within the industry. Because a vast majority of businesses are non-union, workers are not able to negotiate for higher pay and thus not able to keep up with the rising costs of everyday life.

Some critics are quick to point out that the jobs performed at fast-food restaurants do not require much in way of an educational degree and therefore should not receive the same clout when it comes to higher pay. Some workers agree, but are quick to point out that just because they may not hold a college degree does not mean that they should be treated as anything less than a human being which means many fast-food companies may want to reconsider what they pay their employees over the course of their employment.

Source: The Atlantic, "The McJobs Strike Back: Will Fast-Food Workers Ever Get a Living Wage?" Sarah Jaffe, April 4, 2013

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