NEW YORK

The living wage for a single adult is $19.90 per hour. This reflects what is needed to meet basic needs and maintain some ability to deal with emergencies and plan ahead. The living wage for a single adult with two children is $38.13 per hour.

New York’s minimum wage of $8.75 does not allow working families to make ends meet. The state’s minimum wage provides only 44 percent of a living wage for a single adult and less than a quarter of the living wage for a single adult with two children.

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STACY ELLIS  |  Albany, New York

“Everyone who works deserves a living wage, and the opportunity to do better for themselves and their family.”

I’m Stacy Ellis, a 42-year-old single mom of five kids ranging from 6-20 years old. I have been working in fast food for 20 years, in every major chain: Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Dunkin’ Donuts, Burger King and now McDonald’s. I actually really enjoy working with my customers – I love providing great service and making the guest happy by going above and beyond.

I make $8.75 an hour and we are barely surviving. I am able to get by, mainly because of assistance from social services with rent and such, but also due to the fact that I recently switched from the day shift to overnight in order to be guaranteed 40 hours.

Now I make exactly enough to cover our rent, electric, food, and transportation. I pay $585 per month for my rent and social services pays $190. Prior to the shift change, social services paid $285 towards my rent.

The reality is that we live less than a paycheck-to-paycheck life. My wages only pay for our living expenses – not shampoo, or a pair of shoes or a school field trip – and there is no way to get ahead. At the end of the school year, there were several field trips at my children’s school. I just could not afford them, so instead of going with their class, my kids sat in the classroom doing busy work.

My kids are forced to go without normal things kids need.  My youngest has never had new clothes, just for her. She gets hand me downs from her older siblings, and a lot of the time they are from my 10-year-old son.

It isn’t right. I work hard, and I want to be able to provide for my own family without assistance  – so when I work hard, I can see the benefit of that work. Everyone who works deserves a living wage, and the opportunity to do better for themselves and their family.

I am enrolled to go back to college in the fall where I will be finishing my degree. I want to be a social worker helping and supporting at risk youth through the struggles of growing up.

Earning a living wage is critical to my success. If I made $15 an hour, I could take care of my family’s needs, finish school, and build a stronger future that doesn’t require public assistance.

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