Two Evanston residents and one visitor were asked in downtown Evanston on Saturday about their opinion of the minimum wage, which is $8.25 in Illinois and $7.25 in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. They all said that Congress should raise the minimum wage.
“Raising the minimum helps a little bit more with what’s going on in the economy and since everything is going up, it’s best for us if we get a little bit of extra money for the hard work that we do,” Evanston resident and Whole Foods worker, Ivan Heredia, 21, said. “From my experiences with all the bills and rent, it’s hard to pay everything on time.”
Like Heredia, Opinion Editor of The Guardian and New York resident Megan Carpentier, 36, believed it was not possible to live off the minimum wage.
“8.25, less in what you lose in Social Security and FICA, trying to support a family or yourself in a place like Chicago where the cost of living is reasonably high is completely not do-able,” Carpentier said. “If they don’t raise the minimum wage, most states aren’t going to raise the minimum wage so you’ll have states having $15 minimum wages and other states having much lower. That’s not keeping even with the cost of living in those states.”
Washington state has highest minimum wage with $15 while states like Mississippi and Alabama have no minimum wage. President Barack Obama advocates for the $10.10 minimum wage plan, which he says would push more than half of the working poor (over 10 million in 2011) in the U.S. out of poverty, according to the Huffington Post.
57-year-old Evanston resident, Stephen Craig has been unemployed for more than 20 years after he was injured on the job as a maintenance man for local school districts. He sees the issue as politics-centered and the responsibility of the citizens to elect politicians who will reform economic issues.
“It’s a shame that we’re supposed to be the greatest nation in the world and for our government to treat us like this,” Craig said. “It’s not that the employers can’t pay, it’s just that they don’t have to. You can tell how great a nation is by how they treat the poor, and if you look at the poor here, it speaks for itself.