Thursday, January 11, 2007

Underpaid Americans and over-drugged Irish

There's an article over at the BBC about the American minimum wage that's equally fascinating and horrific. Right now in the US the minimum wage is a US$5.15 an hour ($6.58 in Australian dollars). Right now I'm getting paid almost 4 times that, and while I realise I'm horrendously overpaid for what I do, I got far more than that when I was 16 and working in retail. The figure hasn't gone up in ten years in the States; the Democrats want to raise it up US$7.25 by 2009, but this will only make it $9.27 in Australian dollars, still far below what I was making in grade 10. The woman featured in the article, Gina Walter, does a job very similar to the one I had back then, but she has to eat off paper plates because she can't afford the water bill if she washed her dishes every night. I know there's a "working poor" in Australia as well, and that trying to live off our minimum wage is not exactly easy either, but I'm sure to women like Gina Walter what we get paid in this country would seem enormous.

Urgh. Enough of that depressing topic. Here's a weird story for you: apparently 100% of banknotes in Ireland have traces of cocaine on them. Make of that what you will!


Tim Lisle said...

There are similar wages received in Australia, for example, 1st year chef's apprentices only earn around $6-7 an hour.

The Scientist said...

It certainly is interesting to see the difference, but you also have to remember that they live in a tipping culture.

A friend of mine was living in bermuda and worked at a supermarket helping old ladies take their bags to their cars. he got paid $US2/hour or somthing like that. But the difference is that he got usually at least $US10-20 per hour in tips...

it all adds up! but there are still those who get minimum wage and work in a non service-oriented industry, which I imagine is not so good.

Mads said...

The wages for apprentices are pitifully low, but included in them is the idea that you're not just working, but learning as well, and that once you're done you'll earn a much higher wage. A bit like the HECS system I suppose.

And yeah, I realise that tipping is huge in the US, but no-one tips the check-out girl at the supermarket, which is why the whole system is ridiculously unfair.