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The fight to raise minimum wage is sparking conversation in the Brazos Valley

Posted at 9:19 PM, Feb 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-26 22:19:07-05

BRAZOS COUNTY, TX — The federal minimum wage has not risen for more than a decade. Now, the discussion is will it gradually raise to $10 or $15 an hour as the cost of living has drastically changed over time.

Currently the Biden administration along with majority of democrats are pushing to pass an increase on minimum wage to $15 an hour by adding it within the COVID-19 stimulus relief bill.

Two republicans have proposed to gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $10 an hour gradually over the next four years. But many Americans are living proof that this living wage will still pose as a challenge.

Sarah Brown works as a server and makes a little under minimum wage.

She absolutely loves her job and appreciates the flexibility, but also acknowledges it’s a monthly struggle to make ends meet.

”Its anxiety ridden because I don’t know how much I'm going to make every night," said Sarah Brown. "I just pray and hope that I'll make enough to pay all my bills for the month,”

On the other hand, Maele Scott works a bit over the federal minimum wage which is set at 7.25 an hour. Even though she makes a little more, she still finds herself struggling as well.

Someone working a minimum wage job will then collect about $580 every two weeks following the quick turnaround to save up for the first of every month when rent is due.

”It’s just not a livable wage, I'm living proof that’s not feasible, I work almost 50 hours a week, I have a part-time and a full-time job,” said Maele Scott, who earns a little above minimum wage.

Many times, there are sacrifices people have to make to ensure they cover the bare necessities which are rent, utilities and groceries.

Meanwhile, some other luxuries in life are out of the question such as Wifi, cable, new clothes, and vacations just to make sure one can live a comfortable life style.

For example, Sarah has a 14-month-old. She is currently a full-time mom with a part time because the cost of daycare is way too expensive to consider as an option while he is still very young.

“I’d like to cut that cost and I don’t like having him in daycare," Brown added. "I just feel like almost a grand a month for daycare is a lot.”

Someone working full-time for a minimum wage job would make a little over $1,160 a month not including what's taken from taxes.

If we break this down in numbers, according to bestplaces.com, the cost of living, if you factor in the cost of rent in Texas is roughly $841.

Then, citydata.com tells us utilities on average in Bryan College Station at their highest could be $120 a month. Factoring in monthly transportation through the use of gas spending around $40 a month leaves families with roughly $159 for groceries.

Scott shared her family goes grocery shopping about every week spending $100 each time. On average you're looking at about $400 a month to feed four mouths at least.

“I don’t think that we were just meant to work and die, I just feel like that’s what you’re doing just working yourself to death honestly,” said Brown.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are currently 29 states paying above the minimum wage, but many small and local businesses have expressed their concerns in regards to how they will maintain employees or sustain their businesses.