Have you sometimes struggled to pay the bills? Know someone who does—perhaps all the time, month in and month out, maybe even while juggling two jobs?
Well, in Hawaiʻi, that is an experience only too familiar to many working families. The growing numbers of houseless folks very visible on our city streets testify to that struggle and to being defeated by the effort to make ends meet.
Even as our economy continues to grow, even while unemployment is at a historic low, more than half of our working residents have barely enough to pay for a roof over their heads. A worker in Hawaiʻi needs to earn at least $17 an hour to afford a one-bedroom apartment.
At the current minimum wage, a worker who devoted 100 percent of her earnings towards rent, would still not be able to afford a market-rate apartment, let alone pay for food and transportation.
The state’s own data from the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) points clearly to the solution: Raise the minimum wage to at least $17 per hour, with an adjustment for inflation every year so we don’t fall behind as the cost of living continues to rise in one of the most expensive states in the nation.
Advocates for a living wage will be asking our elected officials to deliver on their promises and pass a living wage bill in the 2019 legislative session. But we can’t do it without support from you.
Share with us your family’s story, or a friend’s story, of striving to make ends meet. Tell us also about small, medium and large businesses that are doing right by their employees and paying them enough to live on. Help us make Hawaiʻi a place where a day’s honest labor earns a worker the basic dignities of food, shelter, and the chance to build a better life.
What does our culture of aloha mean if we allow so many of our friends and neighbors and fellow workers to live lives of quiet desperation?
Let’s do right by Hawaiʻi’s workers and make a living wage a reality. It’s the pono thing to do. Join us.