The Wrong Way To View Low Wage Workers

February 13th 2016

Alex Mierjeski

A comic circulating on social media highlights two divergent viewpoints people have towards low-wage workers — one which categorically shuns them, and the other which encourages compassion and fighting to improve the lives of low-wage earners.

Low wage comic

The comic, which was created by an unknown artist, depicts two mothers and their young children. A man sweeping up trash stands across the street. One mother uses the man and his presumably low-paying job as motivation to study hard to avoid winding up pushing a broom for a living.

The other mother points to the man and encourages her child to study hard in order to work to create better working conditions for the broom-pushing man.

The disparate lessons illustrate broader cultural assumptions about low-wage work — namely that it is relegated to the lazy, uneducated, and unmotivated classes, and that workers are stuck in low-paying jobs largely because of those traits. The mother who tells her child to study hard in order to create change for low-wage workers doesn't dispel those notions, but she does imply that there is more to the scene than meets the eye.

CEO Minimum Wage

As ATTN: has noted, the myth that low-wage workers are uneducated is often false. Many workers are in low-paying jobs while they work towards a degree or certificate, but are often trapped in a feedback loop of low-pay, which makes it difficult to afford education programs or vocational training.

Another common argument against a higher minimum wage is that the work — in this case, picking up trash — is not worth more pay. The problem this argument misses is that all American workers — not just low-wage earners — are experiencing decades-long wage stagnation.

Your Stereotype of Minimum Wage Workers Is Probably Dead Wrong

Your Stereotype of Minimum Wage Workers Is Probably Dead Wrong

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As the mother in the second window notes, the problems faced by low-wage workers are not always isolated to those who hold the positions — and they should not necessarily be treated as such.

The Minimum Wage Wasn't Always Less than What You Need to Surv...

The minimum wage wasn't always less than what you need to survive.Thanks to Endemol beyond for their support of this video.

Posted by ATTN: on Tuesday, August 4, 2015