Patchwork of Paychecks: New York

There are not enough jobs to go around in New York. There are 968,000 job seekers, but only about 323,000 total job openings. Of those, only 42 percent pay a living wage for a single adult and only 13 percent pay enough for a single adult with two children to make ends meet. This means there are seven job seekers for every job opening that pays a living wage for a single adult and 24 job seekers for every job opening that pays a living wage for a single adult with two children.

Additionally, women and people of color in New York are more likely to work part-time than are workers overall. While nearly 28 percent of all workers reported working part-time, 31 percent of black workers, 30 percent of Latinas and Latinos, and 36 percent of female workers reported working fewer than 40 hours per week.


When I was 13, I moved from the Bronx to Kingston, New York for better educational opportunities. I have Asperger syndrome, a disorder related to autism. In the Bronx, my school placed me in special education classes, which were not very challenging.

When I went to live with my sister in Kingston, the school was much more helpful. I was placed in regular classes, graduated with a diploma, and continued on to receive a bachelor’s degree in communications and media from the State University of New York, New Paltz.

After graduating from SUNY in 2013, I found work doing data entry. It wasn’t the job I expected to be doing with my degree, but it I enjoyed the work and my co-workers.

In August of 2014, the office closed, leading to layoffs. The stress of losing my first job out of college created health problems. I spent nearly a year dealing with ulcerative colitis and other intestinal problems that made it difficult to leave the house and find new employment.

In April this year I finally was able to find a job working as a frontline employee for Hardee’s, making $8.75 an hour. I was usually scheduled between 20-30 hours a week.

But customer volume at the store has slow and I am basically on call, working 10 to 14 hours a week. In a whole month I only made $268 after taxes. I have to live with his sister, her fiancé, and other family members. There are six of us living in the house my sister rents.

My disability checks allow me to contribute to the household, but the small paychecks from Hardee’s leave me hardly any spending money. I have no social life in Kingston.

I would love to go to graduate school, but I’m terrified of accumulating even more student loans. It’s very hard to plan long term without any money.

If I could have more hours at Hardee’s, I would feel a lot more confident, and be able to think about graduate school again.

I’m not giving up though, I am just 25 years old and I am a work in progress. I have a long way to go and there are many challenges I haven’t experienced and places I haven’t been. I am happy to share my story to help others facing similar struggles. I also encourage everyone to use their voice and speak up – you’re not alone.

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