In TGI’s Guest Opinion January 22nd, Gary Hooser shared that “the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism has determined that for a single person without children the hourly wage needed to simply ‘subsist’ is approximately $17.50 per hour.” Here are a few other findings:
According to U.S. Census Bureau data from 2018, the latest release, the MEDIAN household income was $63,179, an increase over 2017 ($61,372). That computes to $30.26 per hour at 2,088 work hours per year. Hawaii’s minimum wage would require three full-time earners to reach that MEDIAN household income. Hawaii’s cost of living is the highest in the nation.
In March 2012 the Center for Economic and Policy Research released a study showing the minimum wage should have reached $21.72 an hour by then: “If the minimum wage had continued to move with average productivity after 1968, it would have reached $21.72 per hour in 2012 — a rate well above the average production-worker wage. If minimum-wage workers received only half of the productivity gains over the period, the federal minimum would be $15.34. Even if the minimum wage only grew at one-fourth the rate of productivity, in 2012 it would be set at $12.25.”
The Economic Policy Institute reiterated what we’ve been hearing for years: that the income from economic growth has gone to the top 1%, while the rank-and-file shares have declined. Thirty years ago “CEOs of large public companies made salaries 45 times as large as the pay median workers in their industries. By 2018, they made 278 times as much. (It is) unlikely this was driven entirely by CEOs’ own productivity.”
The National Labor Relations Board, under President Trump’s administration, has systematically rolled back worker protections and collective-bargaining rights, and betrayed its statutory obligation to administer and enforce the National Labor Relations Act. The NLRB even seeks to eliminate the right to a union for graduate student workers.
As American families struggle to keep heads above water, last month President Trump’s administration cut food stamps to 700,000 Americans. The loss of food stamps to families would end school-provided lunches to about 500.000 children.
Last week President Trump’s administration announced a rollback of the strict standards of the school-assisted nutrition programs serving nearly 30 million children at 99,000 schools. The standards of the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act” were implemented in 2010 by the Obama administration.
Meanwhile, too many Americans will never be able to retire.
While at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, President Trump suggested last week that he would be willing to consider further cuts to entitlement and social safety-net programs like Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security to reduce the federal deficit if he wins a second term, an apparent shift from his 2016 campaign promise to protect funding for such entitlements.
If this is published, I will be happy to provide links for further reading online.
Susan Oakley is a Kapaa resident.