How She Lives On Minimum Wage: One McDonald's Worker's Budget

Carman Iverson with her four childrenPreviously McDonald’s made headlines for offering a sample budget to its employees living on minimum wage. As a substitute, the company’s goodwill gesture seemed to emphasize the near impossibility of surviving on that level of pay such as the budget assumed the worker had 2 jobs.

To find out what it is like living on minimum wage, we asked one McDonald’s employee. Below is an edited transcript of the conversation with Carman Iverson, 28, a single mother of 4 children ages 11, 7, 5 & 4 in Kansas City, MO. She began working there in April 2012. From there she makes $7.35 per hour. When she first started working there, she was making $7.25 per hour. In January 1, 2013 she got the extra ten cents an hour. She works close to twenty hours one week, & then she might work twenty hours the next week. The authority decides how many hours she works per week by how many days she gets on the schedule. She ever worked the fewest 18 hours in a week. After taxes she make probably between $400-$600 per month. And her rent is $650.When she makes on average $500 a month & her rent is $650 a month she doesn’t pay her rent timely. She has a landlord that works with them. She is kind of on her last little leg, because she has been late on rent. She is actually behind three months in rent. And when she makes some amount without rent sometimes she can pay rent, sometimes she can’t. She get paid twice a month, & both checks go to rent & the rest of it goes to utilities to the point where she don’t have any money left to buy anything for her kids, to buy them clothes, shoes or anything they need.

Worker's fight for raising salaryShe gets food stamps for food about $543 a month. But this is not so enough for them. She takes about $30 a month for transportation. Her only other utility is electric bill which is now $ 800 and some because of her kind landlord. Her sister takes care of her children. That’s why she pays her sister $10 a week. She has a lot of debt, still now. She has been looking for a 2nd job but she couldn’t. She is a cashier in McDonald’s, she cleans the lobby, and she does order take-in, she hand out food to customers.  This is not her first job. She had other jobs, but they were too far out & she did not have a way to get there. This is basically the first job she ever stayed on for a whole year & some months.

If the authority gives them their raise that they are supposed to get, then she will probably make enough money to feed her family, take care of her household & she might have enough time to find an extra job. The authority doesn’t let her get all her hours, one of her managers cuts back her hours & sends her home, & she only gets three or four hours a day. She wants to make more than $10 an hour becuase she is the best worker they got there in the morning time. Her goal in life is to earn her GED, & become a pharmacy technician. She can’t even save any money for living in this house. She is struggling. She is really sitting here struggling with 4 kids off of what McDonald’s pays.

McDonald If she had extra money, her kids would have clothes, & she would be able to pay for the things they need while they are in school. Her son is about to graduate from kindergarten, & she doesn’t even have enough money to get his cap & gown, & that is only $20. & she would be able to get caught up with her rent & bills if she had extra money. She saw part of the budget McDonald’s created for its employees on TV. She saw the first line. It was $1,000 income; she doesn’t make $1,000 in a month.
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