Working for a Non-Living

Home Health AidA friend and I were discussing jobs and wages over breakfast the other day. My friend is becoming a certified home health aid. She has a master’s degree in special education. A master’s degree in environmental law. She has been a home companion working privately for decades. HHA jobs are skyrocketing with the aging of baby boomers and the growth of populations with afflictions such as autism, dementia and cancer.

But what do these jobs pay? Usually minimum wage, or not much above. It would take several years to come up to what our county deems is a ‘living wage’.

Now, unlike our fiscal tightwads like to claim – these wages are not just being paid for jobs that are held by lazy, unskilled, uneducated teenagers. Here are some of the jobs that pay like this in my area:

The aforementioned Home Health Aid. This person has the responsibility of going into a clients home (or residential facility) and providing intimate care, often of a medical nature.

A service worker for developmentally disabled folks. This person provides transportation (using their own vehicles) and accompanies clients of all ages into the community. They also often provide in home and intimate care.

A courtesy van driver for an auto dealership, hotel etc. These folks are trusted to drive business clients all over town, usually in a van emblazoned with the company’s name. They often also run errands such as taking money to and from the bank.

An associate of mine once applied for a job that included not only bookkeeping, but doing the banking using a personal vehicle.

First of all – wouldn’t it make sense to pay these skilled workers a reasonable wage?

Secondly – How can you be surprised if a worker takes advantage of their employer or client when they are paid inadequate wages? Sure – that is not an excuse for unethical behavior, but it sure increases the temptation.

Maybe the powers that be don’t think that, because they are ready to take advantage of people even though they earn exorbitantly high incomes. I say earn. Their incomes are often hidden in non-wage (thus non-payroll-taxable) forms of remuneration. Randi Rhodes commented on her radio show that our current financial system rewards people who make money from money (interest), and penalizes folks who make money from labor/work.

The base wage where I live is just over the state’s minimum wage, and about 2/3 of what is considered to be the livable wage in our county for a SINGLE person.

The median NET household income in the US is about $50K. At $8/hr it would take 120 hours to GROSS that. (note: there are only 168 hours in a week) It takes 55 hours a week @ $8 just to gross an income at the national poverty line.

Huffington Post reported: Obama will announce during Tuesday night’s State of the Union address that he’s raising the minimum wage for workers under federal contracts to $10.10 per hour.

 

 

Well. At $10.10 an hour you’d only have to work 95 hours a week to GROSS a $50K median household income. Is it any wonder that it takes at least two full time workers to support a household?

The national poverty threshold in the US is $23K for a family of 4. Shouldn’t most jobs pay at least that? That would be just over $11 per hour. (I am not sure if that $23K is gross or net)

If you want a quality workforce. A workforce that is healthy enough, and has the wherewithal to show up for work consistently, on time, and focused on doing a good job, you need to pay them adequate wages. This is just common sense.

 

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