The One Reason You'll Never Get A Higher-Paying Job

Joscelyn Kate

Almost one third of the US workforce is living in poverty. The poverty level, according to the government, is just over $12,000 per year for one person. The cost of living for one person, per year, is just over $13,000. Minumum wage of $7.25 allows for individuals to earn $15,000 before taxes, which is a take home pay of approximately $12,000. Allowing companies to employ people at poverty level ensures those employees will be able to access government benefits—tax money paid by other workers—rather than be able to cover their cost of living through their employer.

Most people encourage those working mimum wages jobs to get better jobs. Move up. Go back to school. Seek out training. But even if all of these things were done, where are the better jobs?

Large corporations like McDonald's, Dunkin Donuts, or chain restaurants employ people at poverty or near-poverty wages. The set minimum wage does not meet the federal poverty level requirements for one person, therefore paying minimum wages automatically qualifies the new hire for government assistance—to ensure survival needs can be met... while they continue to contribute to the profit gathering of their employer. So, if people want to not live in poverty, and do want to be able to support a family, purchase property, or pursue non-survival fulfillment, then they should not work jobs like McDonald's or chain restaurants. They should instead pursue a management position, another job, go to school for education and seek out a career path.

This kind of lifestyle is encouraged from the time we enter school. Learn all the schooling, graduate, and find a job, earn money to live, work your way up to earn more money to live, and achieve your goals and dreams. We're all lead to believe that we have the option of getting to the top of the ladder. The problem with that analogy though is that we're all lead to believe we have our own ladder to climb. Each individual person has a ladder and they just have to work rung by rung to get to the top so they can have all the things they want. If they encounter obstacles, they just need to overcome them and keep climbing. Everyone starts at the bottom and everyone has a top, and nobody crosses ladders with anyone else.

In theory, this is wonderful and the reason why it's so easy to perpetuate unregulated capitalism, there is the illusion that everyone can be a CEO, a business owner, an entrepreneur, and an employer. Nobody needs to be an employee. Employee's don't need to be paid livable wages because they're not supposed to stay in that position, they need to move up.

The Better Jobs

If every person has the ability to move up to a higher position and earn higher wages, what does the life cycle of one employee look like? Entry-level position, shift manager, area or district manager, corporate position. If McDonald's employs 300,000 people in the US, without breaking down for us which employees fill which positions, we can assume—based on what we know about how many managers and employees exist at a location—we can be generous with a figure of 100,000 management workers and 200,000 entry-level workers. How much time would it take to advance 100,000 management workers to open up space for half of the entry-level workers to move up? And how much time after that could the other half move up?

McDonald's cannot accommodate all of the employees, moving them into higher paying positions, and providing adequate opportunity for advancement. However, the biggest problem is not that McDonald's is unable to do that, it's that every company is designed in this exact same pyramid-shaped arrangement. There are not enough positions logistically available, in the united states, for the people who are currently employed by large corporations. Regardless of whether people tried to get better jobs, the opportunity does not exist. Holding people accountable for facilitating opportunities that do not exist is misleading.

Wages and Responsible Employment

Employers who are employing a majority of workers and not paying actual livable wages are exploiting the government in that each employee being paid poverty wages automatically qualifies for government assistance. Wages are subsidized by outside resources, while the c-suite executives use various revenue streams to generate personal wealth, there is only a portion of finances allotted to payroll. The average McDonald's CEO earns $6,000/hour. The average hourly employee earns below $16/hour.

The company is using the human capital of the area to build their business and accumulate wealth, but the wealth accumulation is not being doing responsibly. With a large percentage of employees living in absolute poverty and on government assistance, and another percentage of employees experiencing relative poverty, unable to thrive in their area, unable to contribute in a healthy way to a flourishing economy because their means are spent solely on survival needs.

Responsible employment would consist of companies taking an interest in the human capital they're absorbing, and ensuring wages are paid to continue a healthy economic circulation and to avoid creating pockets of poverty.

Motivations, education, and access will not help people get out of poverty. Without responsible employment, and livable wages, government assistance programs will continue to aid the funneling of wealth out of the economy and into the bank accounts of the already wealthy.

Skills Do Not Matter

The skills required to do a job should not be the first and most significant factor in determining payscale. The cost of living and poverty should be taken into consideration and employers should not be allowed to employ people at rates that require supplementation from the government if the company demonstrates the financial ability to pay responsible wages. Additionally, a wage increase cannot be transferred to consumers as the consumers are the employees, the employees are the consumers. An increase in prices would simply translate to a decrease in wages. The corporations earn money through various avenues, if it's siphoning money from the economy, it should have the social responsibility and governmental obligation to ensure money is not stockpiled but is returned to the economy to ensure healthy, functioning circulation.

Gradually increasing wages based on schooling, training, time commitment in learning the position, and/or other factors would be logical. Starting pay off at a level below the cost of living is illogical and harmful to society as well as the rest of the workforce, who pay a large portion of the taxes that fund government assistance.

Requiring responsible employment would ensure money is circulated throughout the economy and people are able to avoid poverty without relying on the government.

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Lover of lattes, champagne, avocados, sleep, and my perfect family. The epitome of a liberal millennial snowflake.

Boston, MA

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