“Low-Wage Work Is No Longer a Guarantee Against Hunger”

The Wilson Quarterly and Narratively release a series of interviews with people who should be earning “enough,” but aren’t.

Photo credit: Sterling Communications, CC BY 2.0.

Today, The Wilson Quarterly and Narratively posted a series of interviews with people living in the gap between “poverty-level” and “living wage:”

Too Rich to Be Poor, Too Poor to Get By

Journalist Lili Holzer-Glier begins by interviewing the vice president of Food Bank For New York City, Triada Stampas:

“We’re in an economy that has been upended and restructured by the recession,” says Food Bank For New York City’s Triada Stampas, “Low-wage work is no longer a guarantee against hunger. This sector is called emergency food because the purpose was considered to be the resource you turn to in an emergency — you lose a job or some misfortune happens in your life and you find yourself temporarily in need. The truth of the matter is, we are no longer exclusively providing emergency food, our network, our system is serving chronic need.”

Holzer-Glier then shares stories from government workers, non-profit workers, single-income families, people with disabilities—and one woman who was a school bus driver but, when she asked her boss whether she could come in 10 minutes late because her mother had just had a stroke, “he fired me on the spot.”

None of the people interviewed are living in zero-income households. At least one adult is working—in several cases multiple adults, or a parent and a teenager, are contributing to the family income—and they still aren’t earning enough.

Read the whole thing. It’s worth it—and it’s a reminder that this could happen to any of us, if it hasn’t happened already.

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