Monday, June 12, 2006

One of’s stories today listed the best and worst-paid professions. Of the worst-paid, food service positions were unsurprisingly at the bottom. Each job’s mean salary was listed along with the areas of the U.S. where workers made the most and least in that position. Massachusetts, Connecticut, NY, NJ, and, Hawaii were commonly the locations with highest earnings.

Incomes for wait staff, fast-food cooks, and other food handlers ranged from roughly $15K - $25K per year. That breaks down to $1250 - $2083 per month gross income (nevermind what a worker actually brings home after taxes).

I grew up in the Northeast in a notoriously expensive state. Just for kicks I did a real estate search in my hometown, a town that is far from the most expensive in that area.

For $150K you can get an acre of land. One acre.

For $175K you can get a 1960s era mobile home. I can’t imagine the heating expenses. New England gets cold in the winter.

For around $190-$200K you can get an 900 or so square foot condo, or maybe a tiny 1 bedroom house.

The cheapest rent I found was $800 for a 1 bedroom apartment. A 2 bedroom starts at around $1100 per month.

I'm sure cheaper places exist, but I'm not sure I'd want to live there. I'm thinking drugs and bug infestations go along with anything cheaper.

Why all these numbers? Because I’m wondering how someone who’s “lucky” enough to be on the high end of a low-paying job can afford rent. I’m thinking a mortgage is out of the question unless that person has a well-paid spouse or some serious financial help from parents or other family. How does a single parent even survive?

I’m just looking at rent. I’m not even considering gas, insurance, or utilities. Trust me, having enough money to heat your home during the winter is a big consideration.


stefanierj said...

I think about this kind of stuff all the time--I'm glad I'm not alone. I really want to read the book "Nickle and Dimed" about minimum-wage jobs, but I think it will depress me too much. Great post.

selzach said...

Nickeled and Dimed is a great book. If you want to read it, give me your new address once you've settled and I'll mail it to you - I know exactly where on my bookshelf it is. I've been keeping it in case I want to read it again, but somehow I never get around to it!