Bringing the Economy Home

Bottom Rung: Readers And Listeners Share Their Stories

Molly Messick / StateImpact Idaho

A job-seeker signed in at call center recruitment fair held by the Idaho Department of Labor last week.

StateImpact Idaho recently took a run at a big issue: the state’s low wages and its comparatively high fraction of workers who earn the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. The full series, called “Bottom Rung,” is available here.

Many readers and listeners have weighed in, in some cases sending their own stories. For example, Monday’s feature focused in part on a McDonald’s franchise that’s just across the Idaho border, in Washington, where the minimum wage is considerably higher than Idaho’s, at $9.19 per hour. 

One reader wrote to say she worked at that very restaurant in high school. “I always wondered why they built it in Washington instead of Idaho,” Jennifer C. says, noting Washington State’s higher minimum wage. She goes on to say she believes the differences in the states’ economies are telling.

Our series’ first feature, which focused on the personal stories of two low-wage workers who live in Boise, prompted personal responses and sparked some debate. A person who wrote in under the name “sad-idahoan” had this to say:

Jobs are few and far between down here in Boise. Sure, knowing where to look helps, but a lot of places are fully staffed. I’m a college student so I don’t have the option of working a 9-to-5, but part-time at minimum wage does not cut it. I have to have 2-3 part-time jobs just to pay the bills. I’m hard-working and dedicated, but that doesn’t help when there’s no work to be found.

That comment was in part a response to another commenter, who chose the name “hardworker”:

Two words, “personal responsibility.” There’s no reason in this state to have to make minimum wage. There are tons of ways to make money, you just have to work hard to make it happen and live a clean life. In other words, grow up and quit expecting others to provide for you.

One other reader posted a remark in the same vein. “[S]ounds like everyone “deserves” to be rich? [W]as entitlement always a virus like this?” says someone identified as “dude352.”

That drew several responses. The most popular of them was this brief one, from “mtomm”:

Everyone entitled not to have to work 2-3 jobs in order to make ends meet. Nobody here is talking about getting rich.

It’s a discussion that’s important to Idaho’s future and the well-being of its people. We‘re interested in hearing more from all of you. Take a look at the full series, send us your own stories, and tell us what you think lies ahead for Idaho.


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