North America

Americans protest low wages in New York City

336444_minimum wage

Demonstrators in the US city of New York gathered on Sunday to call for better wages for workers across the country, saying the federal minimum wage is hardly enough to get by without the help of some sort of government assistance.

The slogan of the demonstrations was clear and simple: “Solidarity with workers/Economic justice for all.”

Since it was last re-set on July 24, 2009, the federal minimum wage in the US has been $7.25 per hour.

With Black Friday heralding the start of the shopping season, demonstrators are expected to take to the streets more often asking consumers to reconsider their spending habits and think twice before shopping from big corporations that pay low wages to their workers.

According to a study by released in October by the University of California-Berkeley and the University of Illinois, a majority of US workers that are employed by big retail chains and fast-food restaurants are living in poverty or rely on government assistance programs such as food stamps to get by.

For years the retail and fast-food industry had relied largely on young, teenage workers who were willing to accept minimum wage in exchange for flexible schedules. However, with the downfall of the economy many of these jobs went to older workers, often supporting a family.

In August, thousands of frustrated fast-food workers went on strike and protested outside McDonald’s, Burger King and other restaurants in 60 US cities, demanding a “living wage” of $15 per hour.

The US has the worst income inequality in the developed world. An analysis of the Internal Revenue Service’s data has shown that the richest 1 percent in the US collected 19.3 percent of household income in 2012, their biggest share since 1928.

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