By: Sharon Aron Baron
Broward County Commissioner Martin “Marty” Kiar who represents parts of Tamarac is going to get a taste of how many of the residents in his district make ends meet each day by agreeing to live on minimum wage.
Beginning on Monday, Kiar, who represents Davie, Sunrise, Plantation and Lauderhill has committed to live on the current federal minimum wage for five days along with State Senator Dwight Bullard. The purpose is to highlight the need for an increase in minimum wage, which is currently $7.79 per hour in Florida.
“Increasing the minimum wage will not only help struggling families make ends meet, it will also spur economic growth. Low- to middle-income individuals are more likely to immediately spend any additional pay than other income groups. At the end of the day, raising the minimum wage is a win-win situation.” Commissioner Martin Kiar
“This week, I have committed to gaining more perspective on the day-to-day struggles of low-wage workers in my district by living on minimum wage,” Senator Bullard said. “My activities are an attempt to better connect with my constituents and to advocate for an increase in the minimum wage. Workers put their money right back into our economy. Raising the minimum wage is not just the right thing for millions of working poor; it’s the right thing for our economy. And it’s the right thing for all Americans.”
Millions of Americans work every day at jobs that do not allow them to provide for their families. The federal minimum wage, $7.25 an hour, amounts to only $15,080 a year. That’s more than $7,000 below the federal poverty line for a family of four. A minimum-wage worker working 40 hours a week cannot afford a two-bedroom apartment in any state in America.
A recent study by Lake Research Partners has documented that Americans overwhelmingly support an increase in the minimum wage. Nearly three-quarters — 73 percent — support increasing the minimum wage and indexing it to inflation. A 56 percent majority believe increasing the minimum wage would help the economy.
A 2011 Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago study showed that a $1 hike in the minimum wage increases spending by $2,800 a year in households with minimum-wage workers. Raising the minimum wage puts more money in the pockets of people to spend on basic necessities such as food, clothing and shelter. This is money that, many argue, will be spent and put back into our economy.
“It’s been very difficult to live below minimum wage and every week, given my wages, I am forced to make some tough budget decisions to keep a roof over my head,” said Fort Lauderdale worker Edson Jocelyn, who works at the Fort Lauderdale airport. “I appreciate these efforts of our local politicians to highlight some of the issues we deal with every day.”
“Our hard-working constituents are struggling in this economy,” said Commissioner Kiar. “People who work for a living should be able to support their families and live off their wages.”
Using the Economic Policy Institute’s “budget calculator” for an individual with no children who is living on minimum wage, Bullard and Kiar will spend the week going to work, planning a budget, grocery shopping, meeting with constituents, and figuring out how to budget their transportation costs and other costs. Their experiences will be documented through regular social media updates throughout the five days.
We wish them well, and will follow up with Kiar’s experiences living on minimum wage after his week is over.