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Unskilled, semi-skilled, skilled labor

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This topic was tangential in a thread. And a point was made that a housecleaner was considered unskilled labor, to which a few people disagreed.

Unskilled vs skilled labor does not mean a person is not using "skills" to complete the job/labor/work. Of course skills are used when you clean a house.

The distinction is about how much education and specialized training is needed to do the job. 

House cleaning is unskilled compared to plumbing.

washing a floor is unskilled compared to refinishing a floor.

There is no moral value intrinsic (or extrinsic, either) to the terms.

edited to add the quotes where people disagreed that housekeeping is unskilled labor:

"Cleaning houses may not be a traditionally educated position, but it’s hardly unskilled."

"Housekeeping isn't unskilled labor."

Edited by unsinkable
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I was thinking today that I would love a housekeeper (considered unskilled) but they make twice what I do an hour as a special education substitute teacher (5 year degree).  

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Actually, people disagreed because someone commented that housekeepers are uneducated and as such don't deserve to be paid a living wage. People were disagreeing with the idea that you don't have to pay a housekeeper much, not that housekeepers don't have an A.S. in cleaning or whatever.

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1 hour ago, Mergath said:

Actually, people disagreed because someone commented that housekeepers are uneducated and as such don't deserve to be paid a living wage. People were disagreeing with the idea that you don't have to pay a housekeeper much, not that housekeepers don't have an A.S. in cleaning or whatever.

And people also quite specifically stated that housekeeping wasn't unskilled labor. 

 

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3 hours ago, Mergath said:

Actually, people disagreed because someone commented that housekeepers are uneducated and as such don't deserve to be paid a living wage. People were disagreeing with the idea that you don't have to pay a housekeeper much, not that housekeepers don't have an A.S. in cleaning or whatever.

I wish that ALL workers could be paid a basic living wage of some sort.  This is off on a tangent but I think we could go a long ways as a society but having people earn a living wage and giving them the power to then decide where to live, how to spend their money, etc.  I work as a special education substitute teacher (with a 5 year degree) and I make less per hour than my special needs daughter does at Walmart.  Neither of which is a living wage.

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I do feel that housecleaning is not a skilled position.  To me, a skilled position is one that requires specialized training.  That does not however mean that just any random person can walk in off the street with absolutely NO knowledge of anything and start doing the job.  My oldest is a TERRIBLE dishwasher.  Like, hopeless.  And this kid had a job as a dishwasher for a couple years.  She was taught at home, she was taught at her grandparents, she was taught on the job at my sister's cake shop.  She's just bad at it.  I mean, she's good enough that she's not going to make anyone sick or anything, but at the same time, a good modern dishwasher is among her favorite appliances lol.  However, the fact that she's so bad at it doesn't mean that dishwashing is some sort of specialized skill.  Most folks either learn how to wash dishes at home, or can very quickly learn on the job.

 

As to the concept of "a living wage."  I actually DON'T think that every single job should be paying a living wage.  I don't believe that every single job out there should be meant for people to live off of.  I am a SAHM.  And while I understand that is a privilege , it's one that DH and I spent many hard years working towards.  And if I go back to work, it's not because I need to, it's to supplement our family's income.  I shouldn't have to go through all the rigamarole of a full time living wage position just to earn a little bit of money to save for a family vacation.  A college freshman who's parents are paying for school shouldn't have to either.  Neither should a retiree who just wants to get out of the house and maybe get paid for doing it.  There is a whole segment of the population that doesn't NEED a living wage, that only needs supplemental income and I don't think it's wrong that there are jobs and pay grades at that supplemental level.   My grandfather is NINTY ONE.  He's not able to do a whole lot anymore, but he can still drive, and do tasks that don't require a lot of physical labor.  He was an electrical engineer for years and saved responsibly through his entire career so when it came time to retire, he had plenty of retirement savings.  He doesn't NEED to work, and can't do a lot of work, but he wants to do SOMETHING.  So he does.  And I don't think it's wrong for him to get paid a little bit for that, even if it's not "a living wage."  

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I don't equate skill level with degree level. Skill is the level of expertise someone has at a task. People sometimes gain expertise through education, sometimes they gain it through experience. There may be an official definition of skilled vs. unskilled when it comes to labor law, but that wasn't what the discussion was about. It was about one particular profession compensation & someone stated that it was an unskilled job and therefore didn't require a certain level of compensation. I am one of the people that said it isn't an unskilled position because I believe it isn't. 

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5 minutes ago, TechWife said:

I don't equate skill level with degree level. Skill is the level of expertise someone has at a task. People sometimes gain expertise through education, sometimes they gain it through experience. There may be an official definition of skilled vs. unskilled when it comes to labor law, but that wasn't what the discussion was about. It was about one particular profession compensation & someone stated that it was an unskilled job and therefore didn't require a certain level of compensation. I am one of the people that said it isn't an unskilled position because I believe it isn't. 

I think there's a difference between a position being "skilled" and a person in that position being good at their job.

I did phone customer service for several years, and have also done basic retail positions for a number of years.  I am good at customer service.  I am in fact, really good at it.  And that comes from a combo of personality and years of experience working with the public.  But I don't think customer service is a position that requires specialized training (in fact, based on my experience, if people really need specialized training, that training probably isn't going to do any good anyway.)  

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2 minutes ago, TechWife said:

I don't equate skill level with degree level. Skill is the level of expertise someone has at a task. People sometimes gain expertise through education, sometimes they gain it through experience. There may be an official definition of skilled vs. unskilled when it comes to labor law, but that wasn't what the discussion was about. It was about one particular profession compensation & someone stated that it was an unskilled job and therefore didn't require a certain level of compensation. I am one of the people that said it isn't an unskilled position because I believe it isn't. 

I agree. I've known doctors and lawyers who have degrees and credentials, but their skills are pretty atrocious. I've also known housecleaners and landscapers and housepainters who have no degrees or credentials, but have phenomenal skills.

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2 minutes ago, happysmileylady said:

I think there's a difference between a position being "skilled" and a person in that position being good at their job.

I did phone customer service for several years, and have also done basic retail positions for a number of years.  I am good at customer service.  I am in fact, really good at it.  And that comes from a combo of personality and years of experience working with the public.  But I don't think customer service is a position that requires specialized training (in fact, based on my experience, if people really need specialized training, that training probably isn't going to do any good anyway.)  

Yes.  Most people are able to clean their own homes.  Some people are better at it than others, but most people are able to do it to a certain degree.  Same with cooking.  Most people can cook adequately enough to feed their families.

Yes, these are "skills" that I have learned over time and try to teach to my children.  I do not call these "skills" in the sense that people equate with "skilled labor".  

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3 minutes ago, happysmileylady said:

I think there's a difference between a position being "skilled" and a person in that position being good at their job.

I did phone customer service for several years, and have also done basic retail positions for a number of years.  I am good at customer service.  I am in fact, really good at it.  And that comes from a combo of personality and years of experience working with the public.  But I don't think customer service is a position that requires specialized training (in fact, based on my experience, if people really need specialized training, that training probably isn't going to do any good anyway.)  

I don't think positions have skills, people do. Our local CC has a certificate program and an AA in the hospitality industry that is largely customer service focused. Generally speaking, people who go through either job have an easier time getting hotel industry jobs and get paid more than those with similar jobs but without the training. But,  like you said, their skill at working in the industry and delivering excellent customer service doesn't necessarily have anything to do with their training. So, by your earlier definition, training = skill, but by your later example, not necessarily. I think this is an example of how confusing the term "skilled labor" or "skilled job" can be.

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Regarding housekeepers, lawn service, etc.

I believe they should be fairly compensated, not necessarily for what they do, but for what they allow the customer to do.  Most people are able to clean their own homes, but some people choose to hire someone else to do it -- not usually because they lack the skills to do it themselves, but because they would rather be doing other things.  This is what makes the worker valuable.

Edited by Junie
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In common parlance, I think it's obviously true that the terms "skilled" and "unskilled" have to do with formal training - whether through a licensing process like a plumber or through higher education. In that sense, being a housecleaner is definitely in the unskilled category.

However, I think it's fair to object to the idea that housecleaning requires no skills or that people can't be better or worse at it or that experience level doesn't matter. And perhaps the very terms as we use them aren't so great and don't honor the fact that there's skill and improvement involved in a whole host of jobs that don't involve any formal licensing or education.

In the other thread, I agree with Mergath that the primary objection was that people said that because it was unskilled labor, the lowest possible wage should be paid. Lots of people wanted to rightly dispel the notion that all housecleaners were created equal simply because there's not a formal process of acquiring the skill set to do the job and anyone can hang a shingle and do it.

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11 minutes ago, TechWife said:

I don't think positions have skills, people do. Our local CC has a certificate program and an AA in the hospitality industry that is largely customer service focused. Generally speaking, people who go through either job have an easier time getting hotel industry jobs and get paid more than those with similar jobs but without the training. But,  like you said, their skill at working in the industry and delivering excellent customer service doesn't necessarily have anything to do with their training. So, by your earlier definition, training = skill, but by your later example, not necessarily. I think this is an example of how confusing the term "skilled labor" or "skilled job" can be.

Positions don't "have" skills....they require them.  People have the skills to do what the position requires.  

A previous poster mentioned doctors or lawyers with terrible skills, and contrasted that with housekeepers with excellent skills.  Sure, it's totally possible to have lawyers who are terrible at their job, and housekeepers who are fantastic at it.  However, in most cases, that housekeeper isn't going to be able to walk into a courtroom and defend a client from a criminal charge.  However, that lawyer is most likely going to be able to figure out how to put dishes in the dishwasher, put laundry in the washing machine, vacuum, and wipe off their dining table.  Because going to court to mount a legal defense requires specialized training, but running a load of laundry doesn't.  

Edited by happysmileylady
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57 minutes ago, happysmileylady said:

I do feel that housecleaning is not a skilled position.  To me, a skilled position is one that requires specialized training.  That does not however mean that just any random person can walk in off the street with absolutely NO knowledge of anything and start doing the job.  My oldest is a TERRIBLE dishwasher.  Like, hopeless.  And this kid had a job as a dishwasher for a couple years.  She was taught at home, she was taught at her grandparents, she was taught on the job at my sister's cake shop.  She's just bad at it.  I mean, she's good enough that she's not going to make anyone sick or anything, but at the same time, a good modern dishwasher is among her favorite appliances lol.  However, the fact that she's so bad at it doesn't mean that dishwashing is some sort of specialized skill.  Most folks either learn how to wash dishes at home, or can very quickly learn on the job.

 

As to the concept of "a living wage."  I actually DON'T think that every single job should be paying a living wage.  I don't believe that every single job out there should be meant for people to live off of.  I am a SAHM.  And while I understand that is a privilege , it's one that DH and I spent many hard years working towards.  And if I go back to work, it's not because I need to, it's to supplement our family's income.  I shouldn't have to go through all the rigamarole of a full time living wage position just to earn a little bit of money to save for a family vacation.  A college freshman who's parents are paying for school shouldn't have to either.  Neither should a retiree who just wants to get out of the house and maybe get paid for doing it.  There is a whole segment of the population that doesn't NEED a living wage, that only needs supplemental income and I don't think it's wrong that there are jobs and pay grades at that supplemental level.   My grandfather is NINTY ONE.  He's not able to do a whole lot anymore, but he can still drive, and do tasks that don't require a lot of physical labor.  He was an electrical engineer for years and saved responsibly through his entire career so when it came time to retire, he had plenty of retirement savings.  He doesn't NEED to work, and can't do a lot of work, but he wants to do SOMETHING.  So he does.  And I don't think it's wrong for him to get paid a little bit for that, even if it's not "a living wage."  

 

My assumption, when we talk about a "living wage", is that we're assuming a 40-hr work week. So no, your college freshman, your SAHM who wants a little extra cash, your granddad wouldn't get a "living wage" because they wouldn't work that many hours. But if you DO work that many hours, then you ought to be getting enough money from your FULL TIME JOB to live off of.

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According to this data, the living wage in the Washington, D.C. area is $84,000 a year for a family of four.  That equals $40/hour!  If everyone at McDonald's is going to be paid $40/hour so that they can make a living wage, the other salaries in the area will go through the roof.  As will the cost of everything.  Which will raise the cost of living.  Which will then increase the living wage.  It is a never-ending cycle than can never work.

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57 minutes ago, Junie said:

Regarding housekeepers, lawn service, etc.

I believe they should be fairly compensated, not necessarily for what they do, but for what they allow the customer to do.  Most people are able to clean their own homes, but some people choose to hire someone else to do it -- not usually because they lack the skills to do it themselves, but because they would rather be doing other things.  This is what makes the worker valuable.

 

This is absolutely true - it's what makes the service industry tick. Not only is someone cleaning my house, for example, they are freeing my time up so that I can go to medical appointments or to work or to any number of other activities that take time away from my house. At the point at which I hire someone to do something for me, my time is more valuable to me than the cost of hiring someone to do that task. This includes everything from house cleaning to plumbing work. I can, and have done, simple plumbing jobs - changing springs in faucets, changing out the components in a toilet flush box. But, I need two faucets changed out. I am perfectly capable of reading the instructions, watching you tube videos and/or talking to friends and, armed with that information, I could then change out the faucets myself. But, I am not willing to spend that much time on the project - there are simply other things I need and want to do with my time. Therefore, I have a plumber coming next Monday to do the work, and he will probably be done in about an hour and will be worth the money he charges me to do it, because at that point, he has freed up hours of my time.

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17 minutes ago, Junie said:

According to this data, the living wage in the Washington, D.C. area is $84,000 a year for a family of four.  That equals $40/hour!  If everyone at McDonald's is going to be paid $40/hour so that they can make a living wage, the other salaries in the area will go through the roof.  As will the cost of everything.  Which will raise the cost of living.  Which will then increase the living wage.  It is a never-ending cycle than can never work.

Or $20 per hour for a double income household. That is much more doable, considering the minimum wage at Target is now $15/hour. Insofar as it raises the cost of goods at Target, I agree that will happen. But, how much stuff is at Target that I really need? We may see a re-balancing of priorities with stores carrying less stock - grocery stores especially could stand to do this. With internet ordering & delivery, this is even more within the realm of possibility than it was even five years ago. Housing prices will not rise beyond what people are willing to pay for them or people will leave. For example - living in DC is expensive - that's why NoVa has been so heavily developed. Now NoVa is expensive, so people and companies that are not DC dependent are relocating to other areas of the country.  Economic changes never happen in isolation, but a re-calibrating of priorities and resulting changes in spending habits isn't necessarily a bad thing. Different isn't necessarily bad, it's just different.

Wage changes will reverberate throughout all of the economy, but change is also not necessarily bad, it just makes things different. If we think we always have to have things work the way that they work now, then we will get stuck in a world that no longer works for us, and wonder why.  

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1 hour ago, happysmileylady said:

Positions don't "have" skills....they require them.  People have the skills to do what the position requires.  

A previous poster mentioned doctors or lawyers with terrible skills, and contrasted that with housekeepers with excellent skills.  Sure, it's totally possible to have lawyers who are terrible at their job, and housekeepers who are fantastic at it.  However, in most cases, that housekeeper isn't going to be able to walk into a courtroom and defend a client from a criminal charge.  However, that lawyer is most likely going to be able to figure out how to put dishes in the dishwasher, put laundry in the washing machine, vacuum, and wipe off their dining table.  Because going to court to mount a legal defense requires specialized training, but running a load of laundry doesn't.  

Yes, but the degree to which experience plays a role, a professional house cleaner may be much better than the attorney is at loading the dishwasher - more efficient use of space resulting in lower energy costs) or doing laundry (fewer ruined items resulting in lower clothing cost). Likewise, the house cleaner could very well take care of a simple court matter (such as a traffic ticket) without an attorney. Simply because someone can do something doesn't mean that they are the best at doing it, or the best choice at doing it. If you had two candidates for a house cleaning job - one a house cleaner with ten years of experience cleaning houses and one an out of work attorney with ten years of experience being an attorney but no experience cleaning a house, they are both willing to work for the same rate of pay - all other things being equal (personality fit, availability, etc.), which one would you hire to clean your house? Personally, I would choose the house cleaner because I know they have the skill to do the job well. The lawyer is an unknown when it comes to cleaning my house. I'm sure the lawyer could clean his/her own house, but that doesn't mean they are qualified to clean mine - my dishwasher is different, my washing machine is different, my flooring may be different than theirs, I may have fragile items that require special handling that they don't have,  I have no idea what products they like or would use while cleaning my house, I have no idea how much common sense he/she has.

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IMO, Insisting that unskilled labor is really skilled labor diminishes those who do unskilled labor...And shows an unacknowledged prejudice AGAINST unskilled labor, bc it seems  that the language has to be changed to make the job *more important.* 

Being a housekeeper is *enough.* Being an unskilled laborer is *enough.* Someone's humanity makes her worthy and enough, not the type of labor she provides.

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1 hour ago, happysmileylady said:

However, that lawyer is most likely going to be able to figure out how to put dishes in the dishwasher, put laundry in the washing machine, vacuum, and wipe off their dining table.  

You'd probably be surprised at the number of people who don't know how to properly clean their houses so mold and mildew don't grow, and wood isn't ruined, etc.

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20 minutes ago, TechWife said:

Yes, but the degree to which experience plays a role, a professional house cleaner may be much better than the attorney is at loading the dishwasher - more efficient use of space resulting in lower energy costs) or doing laundry (fewer ruined items resulting in lower clothing cost). Likewise, the house cleaner could very well take care of a simple court matter (such as a traffic ticket) without an attorney. Simply because someone can do something doesn't mean that they are the best at doing it, or the best choice at doing it. If you had two candidates for a house cleaning job - one a house cleaner with ten years of experience cleaning houses and one an out of work attorney with ten years of experience being an attorney but no experience cleaning a house, they are both willing to work for the same rate of pay - all other things being equal (personality fit, availability, etc.), which one would you hire to clean your house? Personally, I would choose the house cleaner because I know they have the skill to do the job well. The lawyer is an unknown when it comes to cleaning my house. I'm sure the lawyer could clean his/her own house, but that doesn't mean they are qualified to clean mine - my dishwasher is different, my washing machine is different, my flooring may be different than theirs, I may have fragile items that require special handling that they don't have,  I have no idea what products they like or would use while cleaning my house, I have no idea how much common sense he/she has.

You are kind of saying the same thing I am.  

The fact that someone is very good at XYZ task doesn't automatically make that task skilled labor.  And of *course* it makes sense to hire a person who is best at doing XYZ task when you need XYZ task done.  

BUT...if person needs ABC task done, and ABC task requires specialized training...I am going to hire that person with specialized training for that ABC task.  Which means....it doesn't matter how good a lawyer or a housekeeper is at doing their own dishes.  If I need someone to defend me in court against a false criminal charge...I will only be hiring the BEST lawyer, and never hiring a housekeeper, no matter how good that person is at washing dishes.  

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1 hour ago, Junie said:

According to this data, the living wage in the Washington, D.C. area is $84,000 a year for a family of four.  That equals $40/hour!  If everyone at McDonald's is going to be paid $40/hour so that they can make a living wage, the other salaries in the area will go through the roof.  As will the cost of everything.  Which will raise the cost of living.  Which will then increase the living wage.  It is a never-ending cycle than can never work.

The chart you linked specifically says those rates refer to TWO working parents, not one — so $20/hr, not $40. And you picked the highest COA in the chart. That same website lists $15/hr as the basic "living wage" in the US, and that is what most people are referring to — raising the minimum wage to $15/hr.

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11 minutes ago, unsinkable said:

IMO, Insisting that unskilled labor is really skilled labor diminishes those who do unskilled labor...And shows an unacknowledged prejudice AGAINST unskilled labor, bc it seems  that the language has to be changed to make the job *more important.* 

Being a housekeeper is *enough.* Being an unskilled laborer is *enough.* Someone's humanity makes her worthy and enough, not the type of labor she provides.

 

It comes down to how you are defining "skilled." Saying someone has skill doesn't diminish them in my opinion, nor does it demonstrate a prejudice against someone who holds any particular job. I can be skilled in one job and unskilled in another job. Neither is a reflection on my worth as a person.

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4 minutes ago, WendyAndMilo said:

You'd probably be surprised at the number of people who don't know how to properly clean their houses so mold and mildew don't grow, and wood isn't ruined, etc.

No I wouldn't.  But it's still true that most people aren't living in filth so most people can generally figure out how to clean to a reasonable standard, even if they aren't perfect and screw up.  Screwing up a dining table is not the same as screwing up in a court room.  

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2 minutes ago, TechWife said:

 

It comes down to how you are defining "skilled." Saying someone has skill doesn't diminish them in my opinion, nor does it demonstrate a prejudice against someone who holds any particular job. I can be skilled in one job and unskilled in another job. Neither is a reflection on my worth as a person.

Or course it's not a reflection on the worth as a person.

It's just simply a reflection on the specialized training a person has.  

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I just don't see anywhere here or in the other thread comparing skilled labor (or unskilled, whatever) with jobs that require a degree or apprenticeship.  So I'm completely lost as to why this even came up.

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Just now, happysmileylady said:

Or course it's not a reflection on the worth as a person.

It's just simply a reflection on the specialized training a person has.  

Yes, I was responding to a specific comment that did seem to equate skill with worth on the basis that if I say someone is skilled I am diminishing people I say aren't skilled. It simply isn't so. Skills are not equal to worth as a person. I am confused as to why anyone would assume they do, I guess. Sometimes I think that, from a cultural perspective, we are become hyper aware of the misuse of labels and labels in and of themselves are losing some meaningful, appropriate application as a result.

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3 minutes ago, Corraleno said:

The chart you linked specifically says those rates refer to TWO working parents, not one — so $20/hr, not $40. And you picked the highest COA in the chart. That same website lists $15/hr as the basic "living wage" in the US, and that is what most people are referring to — raising the minimum wage to $15/hr.

Thank you for correcting me that this information is for two working parents.  It's a shame that the data doesn't reflect that many families only have one wage earner.

Also, I picked the highest COA because it is where I live.

My dd16 works at a clothing store and makes $9/hr.  While it would be nice if she made $15/hr, I'm not sure that it would actually benefit me in the long run if I have to pay more money for the clothing we need/want.  If the hourly wage went up, the prices of the items I buy would go up.  I would end up buying less (as would many other people).  The company would not sell as much stock and would probably not keep all of their workers.  Dd16 could lose her job.  Which means she would then be making nothing.

I think that some jobs -- such as teachers (skilled workers) -- need to be better paid before we start raising the minimum wage of every (unskilled) job.

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22 minutes ago, Junie said:

Thank you for correcting me that this information is for two working parents.  It's a shame that the data doesn't reflect that many families only have one wage earner.

 

I think that's because two wage earner families are the norm, not the exception.

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10 minutes ago, TechWife said:

I think that's because two wage earner families are the norm, not the exception.

I would suspect however that "two wage earner families" are not actually the most common laborer overall.  I believe that you are correct that, in terms of families that it's true that two wage earners is more common, but in the labor force, are most people really trying to support a whole family?

(and yes, I am actually asking, because I don't know the right way to google this for the right info.)

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59 minutes ago, Junie said:

Thank you for correcting me that this information is for two working parents.  It's a shame that the data doesn't reflect that many families only have one wage earner.

Also, I picked the highest COA because it is where I live.

My dd16 works at a clothing store and makes $9/hr.  While it would be nice if she made $15/hr, I'm not sure that it would actually benefit me in the long run if I have to pay more money for the clothing we need/want.  If the hourly wage went up, the prices of the items I buy would go up.  I would end up buying less (as would many other people).  The company would not sell as much stock and would probably not keep all of their workers.  Dd16 could lose her job.  Which means she would then be making nothing.

I think that some jobs -- such as teachers (skilled workers) -- need to be better paid before we start raising the minimum wage of every (unskilled) job.

But that's not what happens.  It's estimated that raising the minimum wage to $15 will bring more than 6 million people out of poverty, without reducing employment rates.
 

Quote

 

Doruk Cengiz, Arindrajit Dube, Attila Lindner, and I studied all major state-level minimum wage increases between 1979 and 2016 and found they significantly raised wages without reducing the employment of low-wage workers. Notably, we also found the same positive outcomes for even the highest minimum wages in our study.

<snip>

In the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, Dube demonstrates that the income-raising effects of the minimum wage significantly reduce the number of Americans in families below the poverty line. In particular, if the U.S. had a $12 national minimum wage in place last year, there would be 6.2 million fewer individuals living in poverty. The resulting income gains and poverty reductions would be especially large for black and Hispanic families and for single mothers. We should expect similarly sized poverty-reducing effects of a $15 minimum wage in 2024, given that such a policy is equivalent to about $13 per hour in 2018 dollars, after adjusting for projected inflation. 

 

 

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Here is the exact quote:
 

Quote
  • I'm pretty sure we don't live in the same area of the country and that's the pay discrepancy and why we have a different perspecitve on what is good pay.  I think $15/hour is excellent pay for unskilled labor.  The Wal Mart 2 miles from here pays $9.   I think Aldi is the best paying retailer around here and they pay $12.95.  

Sometimes pay has to do with skill (successful lawyers, brain surgeons), sometimes pay has to do with risk, difficulty, willingness (septic tank cleaners). Cleaning other people's toilets is not usually a desirable job, which raises its value.

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17 minutes ago, Corraleno said:

But that's not what happens.  It's estimated that raising the minimum wage to $15 will bring more than 6 million people out of poverty, without reducing employment rates.
 

I don't know if that would be true or not.  I do think that  jobs with wages that are currently above minimum wage but at or lower than $15/hour should be raised first.  If you raise the minimum wage to $15/hour, the people who are currently making $15 (with a minimum wage at half that) will no longer be receiving the compensation that they deserve.

It would be great to pull more people out of poverty, but there are a lot of people in the lower middle class who are above the poverty level who still struggle to make ends meet.

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23 minutes ago, happysmileylady said:

I would suspect however that "two wage earner families" are not actually the most common laborer overall.  I believe that you are correct that, in terms of families that it's true that two wage earners is more common, but in the labor force, are most people really trying to support a whole family?

(and yes, I am actually asking, because I don't know the right way to google this for the right info.)

 

You made me look! I searched for "percentage of two wage earner households" and found this "Employment Characteristics of Families Summary" from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It doesn't exactly answer the question you asked, but it's more info for us to think through. I am not sure if "families with children" is a subset of "families and employment" or if they are two different sets. Honestly, all of these numbers are lower than I expected, which is giving me food for thought re: difficulties with how we determine "unemployment" statistics, but that's another subject entirely.

This is what I found -

Families and Employment

80.8% of families have at least one employed family member - not entirely clear on how they are defining family with this statistic

77.7% of families "maintained by women" (does this mean single women? two women married to each other? No idea) have an employed family member

81.2% of families "maintained by men" (again - does this mean single men? two men married to each other? No idea) have an employed family member

48.8% of "married couple families" have both the husband and wife employed (they have switched from "men and women" to family roles - "husband and wife" here, but this seems to be a subset of the 80.8% in any case

19.1% of "married couple families" have only the husband is employed 

6.8% of "married couple families" only the wife is employed

Families with children under 18 yo (only includes children by birth & adoption, not extended family member children that may be in the household - very narrow definition)  -

90.8% of households have at least one parent employed

Married-couple families with children - 97.4% have at least one parent employed and 63% have both parents employed

Families maintained by fathers (strange wording - I think this is single parent families with the father being the custodial parent) - 84.2 % of fathers were employed

Families maintained by mothers (again, strange wording - I think this is single parent families with the mother being the custodial parent) - 74.1% of mothers were employed

There are several other interesting employment statistics on this page, including info on ages of children in relation to employment of men & women. The part below is where the info I listed can be found.

Families and Employment

In 2018, 80.8 percent of families had at least one employed family member,
up from 80.5 percent in the prior year. From 2017 to 2018, the likelihood
of having an employed family member increased among White (80.4 percent),
Black (79.3 percent), and Hispanic (87.5 percent) families. The percentage
of Asian families having at least one family member employed (88.3 percent)
was little different from the prior year. (See table 1.)

In 2018, families maintained by women remained less likely to have an
employed member (77.7 percent) than families maintained by men (84.3 percent)
or married-couple families (81.2 percent). Among married-couple families,
both the husband and wife were employed in 48.8 percent of families; in
19.1 percent of married-couple families only the husband was employed, and
in 6.8 percent only the wife was employed. (See table 2.)

Families with Children

In 2018, 33.6 million families included children under age 18, about two-
fifths of all families. (Children are sons, daughters, step-children, or
adopted children living in the household who are under age 18. Not included
are nieces, nephews, grandchildren, other related and unrelated children,
and children not living in the household.) At least one parent was employed
in 90.8 percent of families with children, an increase of 0.6 percentage
point from the previous year. Among married-couple families with children,
97.4 percent had at least one employed parent, and 63.0 percent had both
parents employed. Among families maintained by fathers, 84.2 percent of
fathers were employed in 2018, a greater share than the 74.1 percent of
employed mothers in families maintained by mothers. (See tables 1 and 4.)

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7 minutes ago, Junie said:

I don't know if that would be true or not.  I do think that  jobs with wages that are currently above minimum wage but at or lower than $15/hour should be raised first.  If you raise the minimum wage to $15/hour, the people who are currently making $15 (with a minimum wage at half that) will no longer be receiving the compensation that they deserve.

It would be great to pull more people out of poverty, but there are a lot of people in the lower middle class who are above the poverty level who still struggle to make ends meet.

Are you saying you think that people who currently make $10-12/hr should get a raise first, while people making $7.25/hr should stay at that level for longer? Because letting the very poorest people work themselves out of poverty isn't fair to those who are already above the poverty line? I'm not following the logic here...

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8 minutes ago, Junie said:

I don't know if that would be true or not.  I do think that  jobs with wages that are currently above minimum wage but at or lower than $15/hour should be raised first.  If you raise the minimum wage to $15/hour, the people who are currently making $15 (with a minimum wage at half that) will no longer be receiving the compensation that they deserve.

It would be great to pull more people out of poverty, but there are a lot of people in the lower middle class who are above the poverty level who still struggle to make ends meet.

 

The people that are currently making $15 an hour can also get a raise when minimum wage is increased to $15/hr. if their position/experience/performance/etc. calls for it. There is no "ceiling" on wages, so nothing preventing companies from raising wages overall.

 

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7 minutes ago, Corraleno said:

Are you saying you think that people who currently make $10-12/hr should get a raise first, while people making $7.25/hr should stay at that level for longer? Because letting the very poorest people work themselves out of poverty isn't fair to those who are already above the poverty line? I'm not following the logic here...

What I mean is that people supporting families who only make $15/hour should get a raise before my fully-supported teenage daughter who does not rely on her paycheck to live.  (She is saving money for college.)

 

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4 hours ago, happysmileylady said:

As to the concept of "a living wage."  I actually DON'T think that every single job should be paying a living wage.  I don't believe that every single job out there should be meant for people to live off of.  I am a SAHM.  And while I understand that is a privilege , it's one that DH and I spent many hard years working towards.  And if I go back to work, it's not because I need to, it's to supplement our family's income.  I shouldn't have to go through all the rigamarole of a full time living wage position just to earn a little bit of money to save for a family vacation.  A college freshman who's parents are paying for school shouldn't have to either.  Neither should a retiree who just wants to get out of the house and maybe get paid for doing it.  There is a whole segment of the population that doesn't NEED a living wage, that only needs supplemental income and I don't think it's wrong that there are jobs and pay grades at that supplemental level.   My grandfather is NINTY ONE.  He's not able to do a whole lot anymore, but he can still drive, and do tasks that don't require a lot of physical labor.  He was an electrical engineer for years and saved responsibly through his entire career so when it came time to retire, he had plenty of retirement savings.  He doesn't NEED to work, and can't do a lot of work, but he wants to do SOMETHING.  So he does.  And I don't think it's wrong for him to get paid a little bit for that, even if it's not "a living wage."  

Which jobs are specifically set aside just for people who don't actually need a job? Which jobs only hire college students whose parents are paying for tuition, or SAHMs just looking for a little vacation money, or retired people with well-funded 401Ks who just want a little something to do? You can't say "it's OK if some jobs pay ridiculously low wages, because some people don't need the money" if most of the people doing those same jobs need the wages just to pay for the most basic necessities of life. 

 

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2 minutes ago, Junie said:

What I mean is that people supporting families who only make $15/hour should get a raise before my fully-supported teenage daughter who does not rely on her paycheck to live.  (She is saving money for college.)

 

Again, there aren't separate jobs for people-who-don't-really-need-the-money and people-who-really-need-the-money. And you can't pay one worker $15/hr because they're self-supporting and then pay another worker doing the exact same job $7/hr because someone else is paying most of their bills. 

Wages should not be dependent on whether someone else thinks an employee really "needs" the money or not. 

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Here in Aus the minimum wage for someone age 20 and over is just under $20/h. There is a scale to work out the wages for people younger than 20. Many jobs have an award wage. People can look up their job and check they are getting the correct wage.  this system works fine.

 Sure things cost more in Australia than in America but mostly that has to do with location/transport not only around Aus but around the world and population numbers locally. I  think it fine if we have to pay slightly more for things like clothes if it means that the people who make them get paid enough to live off. and it is good to buy a little less anyway - much better for the planet

 

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5 minutes ago, Corraleno said:

Which jobs are specifically set aside just for people who don't actually need a job? Which jobs only hire college students whose parents are paying for tuition, or SAHMs just looking for a little vacation money, or retired people with well-funded 401Ks who just want a little something to do? You can't say "it's OK if some jobs pay ridiculously low wages, because some people don't need the money" if most of the people doing those same jobs need the wages just to pay for the most basic necessities of life. 

 

I don't call $9/hour (what my daughter earns) ridiculously low.  She hangs up/folds clothes for a few hours and earns enough money to buy a new outfit.  (*I actually pay for her clothes while she save her money for college.) I think that is fair compensation.

If someone cannot feed their family/pay for housing, etc. with the amount of money that they earn, then they need to find a job that pays more money.  I do not believe that every job needs to pay a living wage.

Maybe the problem lies not in the minimum wage, but in training opportunities.

 

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2 minutes ago, Junie said:

I don't call $9/hour (what my daughter earns) ridiculously low.  She hangs up/folds clothes for a few hours and earns enough money to buy a new outfit.  (*I actually pay for her clothes while she save her money for college.) I think that is fair compensation.

If someone cannot feed their family/pay for housing, etc. with the amount of money that they earn, then they need to find a job that pays more money.  I do not believe that every job needs to pay a living wage.

Maybe the problem lies not in the minimum wage, but in training opportunities.

 

how old is your daughter?

 is she still in her teens.

 $9 per hour for a few hours work for a mid teen seems OK but not for an adult.

My DS15 works on a production line 2 days a week canning beer- he earns $14 per hour.  people on the same production line who are age 20 and over earn $20 per hour. It is expected by the community as a whole ( therefore the AUS government that sets the minimum wages ) that a mid teen is still being supported by family but an adult has bills to pay

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1 minute ago, Melissa in Australia said:

how old is your daughter?

 is she still in her teens.

 $9 per hour for a few hours work for a mid teen seems OK but not for an adult.

My DS15 works on a production line 2 days a week canning beer- he earns $14 per hour.  people on the same production line who are age 20 and over earn $20 per hour. It is expected by the community as a whole ( therefore the AUS government that sets the minimum wages ) that a mid teen is still being supported by family but an adult has bills to pay

She is 16 and has no expenses.

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10 minutes ago, Melissa in Australia said:

Here in Aus the minimum wage for someone age 20 and over is just under $20/h. There is a scale to work out the wages for people younger than 20. Many jobs have an award wage. People can look up their job and check they are getting the correct wage.  this system works fine.

 Sure things cost more in Australia than in America but mostly that has to do with location/transport not only around Aus but around the world and population numbers locally. I  think it fine if we have to pay slightly more for things like clothes if it means that the people who make them get paid enough to live off. and it is good to buy a little less anyway - much better for the planet

 

This is an interesting approach -- a different payscale for minor workers.

And we've kind of come full circle on this thread.  The person making the clothes has a skill while the person who folds the clothes is unskilled.

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2 minutes ago, Junie said:

I don't call $9/hour (what my daughter earns) ridiculously low.  She hangs up/folds clothes for a few hours and earns enough money to buy a new outfit.  (*I actually pay for her clothes while she save her money for college.) I think that is fair compensation.

If someone cannot feed their family/pay for housing, etc. with the amount of money that they earn, then they need to find a job that pays more money.  I do not believe that every job needs to pay a living wage.

Maybe the problem lies not in the minimum wage, but in training opportunities.

 

Where are these millions of unfilled jobs that pay more money??? Do you know what percentage of the American workforce earns less than $15/hr? 42%  And it's worse for women — 56% earn less than a living wage. The average low-wage worker in this country is not a teenager — 46% are 35 or older. Saying all those workers should "just find a better job" is basically the 21st century version of "let them eat cake."

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30 minutes ago, Junie said:

I don't call $9/hour (what my daughter earns) ridiculously low.  She hangs up/folds clothes for a few hours and earns enough money to buy a new outfit.  (*I actually pay for her clothes while she save her money for college.) I think that is fair compensation.

If someone cannot feed their family/pay for housing, etc. with the amount of money that they earn, then they need to find a job that pays more money.  I do not believe that every job needs to pay a living wage.

Maybe the problem lies not in the minimum wage, but in training opportunities.

 

Where I live, adults supporting families have all the jobs.  When I lived in a less populated area with a lower col teens worked fast food and some retail. 

Around here every job *does* need to be a living wage.

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26 minutes ago, Corraleno said:

Where are these millions of unfilled jobs that pay more money??? Do you know what percentage of the American workforce earns less than $15/hr? 42%  And it's worse for women — 56% earn less than a living wage. The average low-wage worker in this country is not a teenager — 46% are 35 or older. Saying all those workers should "just find a better job" is basically the 21st century version of "let them eat cake."

I don't know what the economy is like in other areas.  I only know what it is like where I live.  There are many jobs currently available in my local area.  And many fast food/retail jobs are held by teenagers.  Ds18 is currently looking for a second job to supplement his college fund. 

I lived in poverty for a few years after graduation until I got married.  I have some idea of what it is like, although I did not live in poverty with children.  If I hadn't gotten married I would have had to find a different job that did pay more, even if it meant relocating.

 

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1 hour ago, TechWife said:

 

The people that are currently making $15 an hour can also get a raise when minimum wage is increased to $15/hr. if their position/experience/performance/etc. calls for it. There is no "ceiling" on wages, so nothing preventing companies from raising wages overall.

 

The ceiling on wages is a company's ability to make money. Many (most?) small business are not operating on a margin where they can just give everyone a $5-7/hour raise. They raise prices, lay people off, or the owner takes a salary cut. None of that really helps the economy in the long term overall.

Maybe some large companies could survive that kind of wage increase, but not most local mom & pop businesses without serious modifications to their staffing. The companies that I know of that pay unskilled workers higher-ish salaries are very, very choosy about who they hire and they don't give any slack as far as being late, not doing the job well, etc. People are competing to work for them and they have a business model that supports that. Otherwise, I see a lot of businesses moving to automated checkouts and kiosks, which I prefer to use anyway as a customer.

Along the lines of the OP, I have to say that a good, reliable house cleaner or lawn person in almost any place I have lived can make waaay more than $15/hour. The times I've hired someone to clean my house it has never been even close to that low of a price.

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