Could you survive on $7.25?
That question is particularly pertinent as the Nebraska Legislature prepares to consider LB 943, a bill that would gradually increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.00 an hour by 2017.
The statistics clearly indicates the need for a wage increase. As our Family Bottom Line report shows, for nearly every family in every region of Nebraska, minimum wage is not enough to make ends meet without assistance. The cost of goods and services has continued to increase while wages have remained stagnant.
In addition, a new report released this week from the National Low Income Housing Coalition shows Nebraskans have to work 74 hours a week just to afford rent.
This financial squeeze creates real economic hardship and struggles for those working at or below minimum wage.
At a media roundtable earlier this week, we heard from Tyra Andera who detailed her struggles surviving on minimum wage earnings.
Beatty Brasch, Executive Director of the Center for People in Need, says they serve families every day who are trying to live off minimum wage. Brasch also dispelled the common misconception that minimum wage workers are mostly teenagers.
While the Fair Minimum Wage Act to raise the federal minimum to $10.10 stalls in the U.S. House of Representatives, state governments across the country are recognizing that minimum wage leaves many families far from self-sufficiency.
For Tyra Andera and the roughly 32,000 other working Nebraskans who work at or below minimum wage, the Unicameral has the opportunity to act now and help these individuals move toward economic stability.