Life at America's bottom wage

 
2-part feature in Christian Science Monitor profiles Oklahoma working poor As the House considers increasing the minimum wage, a look at the realities of life at $5.15 an hour. As the House considers increasing the minimum wage, a look at the realities of life at $5.15 an hour. Few states will see a greater impact than Oklahoma. As of last year, the Sooner State led the nation in the share of hourly workers (4 percent) who earn no more than $5.15 per hour.That means many families such as the Hosiers will see a boost in pay if the law changes. But it means that negative ripple effects will also be magnified, as businesses confront a big jump in labor costs. Many employers will have to raise prices, and some are likely to hire fewer people as a result.In the end, the law may exert only a modest influence on the arc of Oklahoma's economy, experts say. (The income gains and job setbacks would be greater if the hike, say, doubled the wage instead of boosting it by the proposed 40 percent.)  Part 1 - 01/09/07 Life at America's Bottom WageOklahoma doesn't have high living costs, compared with some other states. But to cover the basic needs of a family of four here typically requires an income of more than $33,000, according to an online budget calculator created by the liberal Economic Policy Institute in Washington.At $5.15 an hour, it would take three full-time jobs for a family to earn that much.Part 2 - 01/10/07When the lowest pay rises, what happens?A minimum-wage hike last week in Massachusetts will help workers to stay afloat.

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