West Virginia Public News Service – As the West Virginia Legislature debates raising the minimum wage, lawmakers will talk about how hard work is necessary to get ahead. But sometimes language like that glosses over the reality of working poor families trapped by low wages and debt. Read
Ray and Nicole are a couple with a young son in Logan County. Both of them are struggling to get better-than-entry-level work, but they don’t feel confident enough to use their full names here. Ray says last year he finally got something above the minimum. But he says sometimes he still can’t afford his commute.
“There’s been a lot of times that I myself have been short before the paycheck comes in. Unfortunately, I have to admit, it’s easy to pull out the credit card,” Ray said. “If it wasn’t for the credit card, there’s times I’d be out of gas.”
Many folks assume minimum-wage employees are teenagers earning spending money. But according to the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, raising the minimum wage to $8.50 an hour would benefit 120,000 workers in West Virginia, and a huge proportion are families such as Ray and Nicole. Supporters say the boost could help those families dig themselves out of debt.