Congressional Candidate: I Couldn’t Live at American Entry-Level Wages

Ron Leach, a Democrat running for Congress in Kentucky, decided to see for himself what the working conditions are like for blue collar workers. He worked an entry-level job at UPS loading packages into aircrafts in Louisville, Kentucky for a couple of months and has recently written about his experience. You can find his full account here. To sum up, he says that without his wife’s benefits and salary:

I could not have survived the past couple months at the “entry level” of America’s economy in which an increasing majority find themselves trapped.

He describes working conditions common to many in the US. The job is physical and involves some risk, although he says that UPS tried to mitigate that risk where possible. However, the job only paid $8.50 per hour and workers weren’t eligible for employer-based benefits for a year. The 2013 BEST wage for Louisville, Kentucky for a single worker with benefits is $13.31 per hour. Without benefits, that worker needs to earn $14.98 per hour just to cover basic expenses. The lack of employer-based benefits leaves workers to find their own insurance. The wages paid barely keep workers off of Medicaid, assuming full time work. They will all be eligible for heavy subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. The need for health insurance is clear, as Leach notes several serious injuries among his coworkers, all new hires.

NELP estimates that more than one quarter of American workers make less than $10 per hour and EPI estimates that 28% of workers will be low-wage workers into the next decade.

We no longer have an economy that rewards hard work or playing by the rules.  We are increasingly becoming a nation of declining fortunes for the majority and a nation in which the American dream is increasingly beyond reach and social mobility is one direction – down – for a growing majority.  

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