Can You Live on $51 Dollars a Week?

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Sept. 10, 2014 (San Diego) Council President Todd Gloria, MAAC Project President and CEO Arnulfo Manriquez and Queen Bee’s business owner Alma Rodriguez completed the minimum wage challenge today. They had to live on $51.00 for the whole week. That is what is left over after taxes and other average expenses are paid. They had that tor transportation and food.

This was voluntary. None of them is actually earning minimum wage, unlike 33 percent of workers in San Diego.

As the press conference started Gloria said, “we gave attempted to live on the current $9.00 hour minimum wage.” He added, “after average expenses and taxes, a minimum wage worker would have approximately $51.00 for food, transportation and other necessities,” for a week

Gloria also said that during this week he did not spend money on his favorite coffee. He did not take his clothes to the dry cleaner. He did not wash his vehicle. He also took public transportation, adding hours to his daily routine.

The jump in the minimum wage will add $260 million to the local economy, and people who cannot afford any extras, will be able to get shoes. They will be able to afford to go out to a restaurant. Incidentally, the $70 dollars he spends a week going out, were not spent.

This economy is keeping people down, but it is also keeping the economy from being as vibrant as it could be.

The event was held at the Catholic Charities downtown, one of many services in the county to help the poor. 86 percent of the Catholic Charities clients work but their income is not enough to put food on the table.

Gloria is a single man, who lives frugally. He ran out of money. He could not see how parents, or business owners, could make it on $51 a week.

Alma Rodriguez said that her life changed dramatically. She could not help her children with textbooks for college. The money was simply not there. She could not do things that many women will take for granted, like do her nails. Or for that matter drive to work, and she had to walk back home from her business at night.

She also said that she raised her children on minimum wage twenty years ago, working two to three jobs so her children would have a better life. She urged people not to sign it, and if they have, to take back their signature.

Manriquez is a single father of three children. “We went grocery shopping, we went through the aisles, we went through everything.” He said that out of his $51 he had allotted for the week, $33 went to groceries and the rest for gas to drive his children back and forth to school and activities.

Manriquez also said that public transportation for the week would have run him $44 for a family of four. He also added that by the third day he had no more food of what they bought in the pantry. He does not expect this for people on minimum wage. He added that he pays above the minimum wage and it is very possible for business owners to do so.

When Reporting San Diego spoke with Gloria, he said that the other side “is showing signs of desperation and spending as much as $10 dollars a signature.” He added “San Diegans aren’t buying what they are selling.”

That said, he acknowledged the threshold is very low.

“We have documented proof of these people saying absolutely anything to get people to sign it.” This includes telling people that signing it increases the minimum wage. If people want to rescind their signature, people need to file this form by next Tuesday.


(We have the videos embedded in this story)


Twitter: @nadinbrzezinski

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Categories: City Hall Politics, economics, labor

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