In their biggest push yet for higher wages, thousands of fast-food workers are planning to strike in 100 American cities on Thursday. They are asking their federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour to be raised, saying they are unable to support themselves and their families on those numbers.
The minimum wage varies from state to state, starting at $5.15 an hour in states like Wyoming and Georgia, to $9.19 an hour in Washington. The White House recently announced President Obama’s support for a Senate bill that would increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10. Although it is not likely to get support from the Republicans in the House.
According to the OECD, the U.S. has one of the lowest minimum wages. “It isn’t quite the lowest, but we’re pretty damn close,” says Mother Jone’s Kevin Drum.
Many economists warn that this situation is the new normal in the country: low-paid jobs are no longer filled by teenagers who need extra money but by adults who cannot find anything else. Despite the economy officially being back on track after the 2008 crisis, underemployment is still of 15%. People are getting several jobs, no benefits at all, just in order to make ends meet.