By: Leah Uko
OMAHA (KPTM) – Currently the median income for a fast food worker is $15,080 a year, which is below the poverty line for a family of four. President Obama is pushing to raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour—a raise that can have both bad and good effects.
Jared Gibbs, who works at McDonald's and gets paid a little more than minimum wage, said he'd accept the raise, but knows that inflation will follow.
"Yeah if he raised minimum wage to $9 it might make it a little easier for a little while, but in the long run we really have to consider, like, how it's going to effect the economy as a whole," Gibbs said.
Gibbs lives in a house with roommates and pays around $360 a month for rent. He said his cell phone bill is $100 a month. The 23-year-old said he'd like to save up for a car, but can't right now because he is on a strict budget.
"Minimum wage it's not fun, but everyone's got to start somewhere."
He said he plans to go to school and study business administration so he considers his job as good practice.
Not everyone had an optimistic attitude.
Marisa Mickow, 19, said she wanted to go back to school, but couldn't keep up with the cost. She said she'd get a higher paying job if she could.
"Not having much education outside of high school it is difficult to get higher paying jobs," Mickow continued. "So I have to have a minimum wage right now so I can make money to go to school to get a higher paying job."
Currently the federal minimum wage is $7.25. An individual working 40 hours a week at that rate would make $15,080. The government considers anyone making less than $11,490 a year to be in poverty. A single parent who supports two children would still be considered poor if the person made less than $19,350 a year because at $9 an hour, 40 hours a week for 52 weeks, that person would only make $18,720 a year before taxes.
Owner of Chicago Dawg House, Kelly Keagan said he felt bad for minimum wage employees struggling to make ends meet, but the responsibility to help them out should not be put solely on the employer.
"I can't be held for people's decisions. This is not a—this is not a destination job," Keagan said.
Keagan said majority of his 14 employees are paid a little more than minimum wage. But if the wage went up to $9, he'd have to lay some of them off and raise his food prices to stay afloat.
He feared this would result in his business closing.
"I wonder how they think I'm going to cover that as an employer."
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