Subject: Surviving on Minimum Wage
My study is based on an employee of a well known department store chain of companies (Yes, we all know that it is one of the Marts). For the sake of confidentiality we will call her Jill.
Jill appears to be a level headed individual, and in a low-wage situation that characteristic is very important. She is a mature 26-year old Caucasian, has a 6-year old son and lives with Jorge, her Cuban- American husband. She originally lived in New Jersey but left home when she got pregnant. Apparently there were some uneasy domestic issues, as to her choice of partner (they were not married at the time of the pregnancy) and they figured that getting pregnant, on top of that, was an accident. A fight (hopefully this was verbal) broke out and she had to leave the house.
Why did Jill end up in Miami? The answer is simple. When she left home (New Jersey), it was winter. Cold and pregnant her boyfriend remembered the warmth of his Hialeah hometown and being more family oriented than her family, he made the decision for them. Most American parents try to kick their children out of the house by the age of 19; this is not the case for Caribbean parents.
Her boyfriend got a job as an electrician with a small company, but it was not stable. They would call him in to work whenever there was something to do, but that did not happen every day. As a result Jill and Jorge stayed at his parents’ home together with at least three extended family members for two years. Any money that was made by Jorge was considered a contribution to the house as a whole. Jill did not mind that because she was not employed and the family helped her out tremendously with the baby. Sometimes she felt uncomfortable because she did not speak Spanish at all.
Four years ago Jill got a job at MART but it was an outlet in the South of Miami. Her salary is currently $7.50 per hour. Her salary started at $6.75; it is on account that she has been an...