9 measly bucks per hour

February 13, 2013


40 hr week (thank you liberal progressive commie America haters….almost 100 years on and America is still not destroyed)

52 weeks per year (yes I know but those should be 2 weeks of paid vacation, dammit)


that’s pre-tax.

The current US Federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour gets you $15,080 annual. Pre-tax. And let’s face it, without vacation time.

21 Responses to “9 measly bucks per hour”

  1. jipkin Says:

    someone needs to launch an “economics for scientists” mooc so that I can feel better when arguing with people about shit like this. I had a high school economics teacher that swore that raising the minimum wage was stupid because it would OBVIOUSLY raise inflation because prices would have to be higher and blahblahblah. He also believed in the a priori assumptions that underlie firm theory (is that what it’s called?) which are clearly quite bullshit (perfect knowledge, rationality). But anyway, can’t interest rates / monetary policy also be used to do stuff about inflation?

    So frustrating not to be able to visualize how all the graphs fit together in my head.


  2. WS Says:

    Sounds like graduate school.


  3. drugmonkey Says:

    Yeah, just like graduate school. except graduate students in the biosciences are getting $25-29K per year. Also, whether you like it or not, graduate students are only technically “working” about half time and are “training” (i.e., going to school for free) the rest of the time. Certainly they end up after about 6 years with a degree that changes their job prospects substantially.

    but yeah, minimum wage labor is kinda like that.


  4. Lady Day Says:

    Humbling. We should be pushing for a better living wage, even and especially on campus. It’s pathetic that some academic institutions try to escape blame for the low wages paid to custodial staff by outsourcing the labor.

    At my former university, in-house custodial staff weren’t allowed to form or be members of unions. Where I currently work, custodial services are outsourced. In both cases, every person with whom I spoke said that he/she worked more than one job just to make ends meet.


  5. essman Says:

    jipkin, Coursera does in fact have such a course. The current session is in progress, but I’m sure another session will start soon.



  6. WS Says:

    “Certainly they end up after about 6 years with a degree that changes their job prospects substantially.”

    For the worse.


  7. DrugMonkey Says:

    You are deranged. PhDs enjoy about the lowest unemployment of anyone in this dismal economy. Plus, the award of the PhD opens up a whole new category of jobs and yes, “postdoc” pays better than minimum wage too.


  8. jipkin Says:

    @DM benefits typically better for PhD students as well (not sure about PD). though for some (perhaps most), doing a PhD involves as many hours in a week as holding down 1.5-2 regular jobs.

    @essman ask and ye shall receive! thanks!


  9. DrugMonkey Says:

    Full time min wage plus another 40 hrs a week at time and a half….round it to…~$47,000. And of course that would be actually working, not playing Angry Birds half the time. Or taking 4 hr coffee breaks while some shit incubates or compiles or god knows what.


  10. DrugMonkey Says:

    NIH postdoc with 3 yrs exp is at $46,000. So…..waaah?


  11. theshortearedowl Says:

    Grad students in the *bio-medical* sciences make that. The rest of us eco-evo types are on around $20k thank you.

    And of course it’s better than stacking shelves in Shop-n-slop for actual minimum wage plus no benefits. One post-doc tangentially associated with my last lab did leave to become a driving instructor though. The pay was the same but the hours were better; but mostly, it was being on soft money. The lack of job security, or being able to settle down for more than 2 years until you’re maybe late 30s, I think is a bigger deal than the money in pre-tenure academia.

    Question: would $18,720 (or $15,080) be enough if there was proper, universal, free-at-point-of-service health care?


  12. physioprof Says:

    Everyone knows that being a post-doc in a glamour lab is just like being a slave in a slave galley.


  13. miko Says:

    I just checked this thread to make sure it had been derailed into another pointless discussion of biomed trainee salaries.



  14. Grumble Says:

    A minimum wage of $15,000/year is unconscionable. The Republicans who defend it should be ashamed. Not that those shits are capable of that particular emotion.


  15. Jason Says:

    Then the dems- you know, those reality-based proponents of fiscal discipline- should have done something about this unconscionable policy when they had both houses of congress.

    Unless, of course, they don’t really want to do anything about it… because they realize it isn’t such a great idea during the never-ending budgetary disaster that this administration is perpetrating.


  16. dsks Says:

    The Dems don’t give a shit either, that’s why whenever they trot out this old chestnut to rile up the faithful they always make sure to include enough loopholes to conveniently exclude most of the folk that would actually benefit from this (and attenuate the risk of pissing off the lobbies of the people those folk work for).

    One only need look at the Gov’s own labor statistics to see that, within the constraints of most contemporary debate, talk of increasing or decreasing minimum wage is just hot air in terms of genuine impact on the economy (also backed up by data showing little evidence that changes in minimum wage either a) reduce poverty or b) negatively impact employment undermining both Dem arguments for and Rep arguments against.


  17. becca Says:

    Most folks making those wages who are over 25 and with a kid are getting an additional ~3k back in the EITC (whether their pay is closer to 15k or 18k). In a sense, I’m not sure I disagree with the bargain that was made about the minimum wage last time. If I had to pick between loosing a handful of jobs (projections are that it really isn’t that much we’re talking about, but it is some) and increasing the minimum wage to $9, VS. doubling the EITC (and expanding to people < 25 who have dependents) and leaving the minimum wage as is, I know I'd prefer the later. It'd be better to raise the minimum wage to $9 AND double the EITC though.

    Also- NIH stipend level is 22k. I'm sure glad people in (expensive locations) might be getting 25-29k, but it's not like we're typically talking about enough to raise a family on.

    The ways grad students are worse off than many minimum wage workers are:
    1) (sometimes, depending on official job category, particularly for fellowships) lack of contributions toward social security/unemployment insurance
    2) (usually) lack of ability to take on additional jobs without violating their contract, and lack of ownership of their intellectual property
    3) (sometimes) more social stigma against getting available governmental aid for low income folks. My PhD advisor threw quite a fit when he had to fill out my state childcare subsidy paperwork.
    and *possibly*
    related to 3), I suspect there is less likelihood to be "counted" as unemployed when one gets a PhD… but I really have no evidence for that, aside from the obvious issue of people who fail to secure even a postdoc being ineligible for unemployment.

    Also, I'm pretty sure universities are taking a lesson from Walmart on how to handle grad students that become ill or disabled (step 1- kick their butt off your healthcare plan!). Grad students get pretty much the same shitty deal as minimum wage workers in many of these cases. No idea which are worse statistically, but universities are not benevolent overlords.

    In general, grad school is obviously still a much better deal. But that doesn't mean that when things go badly for grad students, snarking at them solves a damn thing. Minimum wage at walmart is way better than picking peppers in texas as an undocumented migrant worker. So that tells us how much about how awesome walmart is???


  18. drugmonkey Says:

    Interesting you should bring up Wal*mart. The EITC is basically a government subsidy of companies that depend on very low-wage labor at the expense of companies that pay a fair wage, is it not?


  19. becca Says:

    Well, I can see why you might want to look at it that way. Though I’m sympathetic to the view the problem isn’t that Walmart jobs suck, but that only Walmart is hiring.

    Also, if we state that the EITC is a government subsidy of organizations that depend on very low-wage labor at the expense of organizations that pay a fair wage, it might be worth noting that grad students with dependents making 22k most assuredly qualify for a good ~2k EITC bonus (and it’s not phased out completely for 30k, so even if most grad students are making 25-29k “low-wage” and “unfair” ought to still apply).

    To you it might be an abstract issue about whether Walmart lobbied for a tax code that allows them to keep the labor force it likes to have. To me, it’s how I paid for the rest of daycare. Which is precisely the point of political compromises that benefit chunks of the middle class as well as the poor- they tend to get more vigorously defended.


  20. drugmonkey Says:

    Trailer park Republican logic becca. Never mind the policies pulling $1,000 out of my left pocket, they are holding the line on “taxes” and will put $20 back in my right pocket! Vote GOP!!!


  21. Grumble Says:

    Exactly, DM. I find it amazing that no one seems to have noticed that after all the hue and cry about taxing the wealthy a measly couple of percent more (which most of them will be able to avoid anyway by all the shenanigans at their disposal), at the very same time, middle class and low income wage earners’ taxes went up by quite a bit because of the expiration of the payroll tax break. Almost no one – not one politician of either party, and hardly anyone in the media – raised the irony of these two events occurring together.

    This is why I didn’t vote for any Democrats (and certainly not Republicons) last year. Becca might call it “compromise.” I call it “screwing the people to benefit the very wealthy.” Enough is enough. People on the left need to start voting for politicians who support the principles they believe in, not those who will “compromise” all of our rights and resources away to big corporations and wealthy people.


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