Just a few weeks ago, Kyle Bigler wore holes in his shoes walking to his two minimum-wage jobs. He didn’t have a car, and he felt lucky to have the work at a gas station and Dunkin Donuts (somewhat) near his Gilford, New Hampshire home. But what he wasn’t expecting, as he walked 16 miles a day between work and home, was sudden support from a good Samaritan.
Bigler was just going through his day-to-day work-a-thon (sometimes totaling 20 hours in shifts) when Joanna Griffiths not only noticed him walking alongside the road, but recognized him later when she happened to frequent both places where he worked. She snapped his photo and told his story to her friends on Facebook, and that’s when the wheels started turning to change his life.
A local car dealership jumped at the chance to give Bigler a car. Once he passes his drivers’ test, he will get six hours of his day back for little things like sleep, and visiting his son. You know, the things that get put to the side when you’re focused on getting to work on time and not getting fired.
What Can We Learn From This Story?
Two things stand out about this inspiring tale.
The first is Bigler’s work ethic. Bosses noted how hard a worker he was, and he even told NH1 News that he was happy to have the work, even if it was just for minimum wage.
“There are jobs everywhere you just have to look,” he said. “I mean if it’s a problem with someone not having a vehicle … I walk 8 miles.”
The second, obviously, is that it takes an extraordinary amount of hard work to eek out a living on minimum wage. In New Hampshire, where Bigler lives, minimum wage is set at the federal minimum (currently $7.25 an hour). Assuming a 40-hour workweek, that works out to a $290 weekly paycheck, before taxes.
The reality, of course, is that many minimum-wage jobs are also part-time jobs, which means that workers who need full-time income wind up cobbling together multiple gigs to make ends meet—and then barely so.
Minimum wage also buys less than it used to at its peak in the late 1960s, when the real value of the federal minimum wage in 2014 dollars exceeded $10 per hour. PayScale’s Real Wage Index, which measures the buying power of wages for employed U.S. workers, shows that the value of a typical worker’s pay has decreased 7.4 percent since 2006.
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