Zach and Janet used to live in their van on the parking lot of a restaurant that I managed. Zach worked for me and Janet worked at a McDonald’s down the street. They lived in their van and used the shower at the nearby truck stop.
In the back of their Ford van was a mattress and they kept their little dog on a chain in there as well. It was a convenient arrangement for me because whenever I needed extra help, all I had to do was tap on the door of the van and I had an instant employee.
I guess you could say that Zach and Janet were homeless living out of their van. Even with two people working, they couldn’t afford an apartment. But many minimum wage workers work two jobs apiece and still have problems coming up with the money to pay their bills or have a place to live.
It was a tough living years ago, I know because at one time I did it, but with the faltering economy it’s even worse today. Back then you could get all of the minimum wage jobs that you wanted, but now it’s getting hard even to get those jobs that don’t pay squat.
According to the St. Louis Daily News: “Less-educated, younger, and minority American workers face the worst job market in decades, far worse than their more educated counterparts. Younger and less-educated workers are the most likely to be in competition with immigrants – legal and illegal. “
The unemployment rate for these younger workers is about 20%. Also younger workers are being forced to take part-time positions and this means that they have no benefits like sick pay, vacations, and health insurance. Some employers deliberately do this so they don’t have to pay for these benefits while others only give full-time to those employees who have been with them a long time.
There are 6.3 million unemployed or underemployed people in the United States and another 16 million of these less educated underemployed folks who have taken themselves out of the job market.
The sad thing is that in the past if you had a high school diploma you could learn a trade and get a decent paying job working in a factory. You also had good benefits as a union member as well as job security and a guaranteed retirement. Now even people who have a college degree are unable to find employment and are forced to take the lessor jobs away from the young under education workers.