The Working Poor's Impossibility of Survival Essay

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According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), all employers must abide by the minimum wage policy which states that they must not pay their employees a wage below the set minimum wage. It is often believed that it serves as a protection for the citizens. Though the minimum wage law benefits employees because employers cannot pay them below the minimum wage, the minimum wage, however, does not "protect" them from the struggles and hardships they will most likely encounter. Rather, as millions of Americans work in full-time minimum wage jobs, several of them discover that their wages are insufficient to survive in today's society. In the book Nickel and Dimed, the author Barbara Ehrenreich, a journalist with a PH.D, does undercover …show more content…

When a personal trainer (one of The Maids' clients) discusses the way of being fit is by firing their cleaning lady, Ehrenreich keeps in mind that "[...]this form of exercise is totally asymmetrical, brutally repetitive, and as likely to destroy the musculoskeletal structure as to strengthen it"(90). Vacuuming, scrubbing the floors, cleaning the bathrooms, reaching for items, and the other physical duties of this job, if done repetitively, result in permanent injuries. This is evident in The Maids job, where several of her coworkers suffer through back pains, cramps, and arthritic attacks caused by their jobs. Thus, the idea "that `hard work' was the secret of success"(220) is an unreasonable conclusion because several minimum wage workers exert their best effort, only to find themselves physically hurt and "[...]sinking ever deeper into poverty and debt"(220).

The biggest problem minimum wage workers encounter, however, is not the physical demands of the job, but the inability to support themselves financially. In America, according to the welfare reform, it is assumed that "[...] a job was the ticket out of poverty [...]" (196). However, as Ehrenreich experiences the life of a low-wage worker, she claims that her low wages are simply not enough to survive. The major factor that destroyed the workers financial status was the soaring prices of rent.

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