President Barack Obama wants to persuade Congress to raise the nation's minimum wage. The President proposed increasing it from $7.25 to $9.00.
Here’s a break-down of what the current minimum wage will get you:
If there are two workers in your family, right now your average income at minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. That hovers at around $19,060 a year.
Using estimated living costs from Feeding South Dakota, a typical family is in the red at the end of every month by as much as $287.
At the proposed wage of $9.00 an hour, that same family's take home pay goes up to $28.75 per month. Factoring in those same expenses, a family would end up with a monthly surplus of $625. That could help pay for things the family couldn't afford before, such as health insurance, which is estimated at $600 per month.
Many of the families making minimum wage or even slightly above it fall into the working poor class. They depend on programs to help meet basic needs, like the food pantry.
“They'll say, oh, our hours got cut or something that was totally unscheduled, spur of the moment, and we're here for that emergency for them,” Sioux Falls Food Pantry director John Geyer said.
Geyer says the organization gave out more than 650,000 pounds of food last year.
There is no typical family who comes in looking for help.
Raising the minimum wage to $9.00 would help families, but it would still fall below the average amount needed to meet all needs, which according to Sioux Falls homeless officials is $12.40 per hour.
More than 50 percent of the Sioux Falls homeless are working full time, but can't afford housing. Others can't afford to eat. Geyer says nearly half of the people who walk through his doors are also employed, which defies a stereotype about food pantry customers.
“All of our customers or clients don't have jobs, they're homeless, they're trying to take advantage of the system, things like that. But statistically, just about over 40 percent either have full or part time jobs,” Geyer said.
So, how much of a difference would a minimum wage hike make? While it wouldn't solve the problems for families already at the poverty line, but it may help.
But raising the minimum wage could also affect all wages, ultimately meaning a bump in pay for those making more than the minimum wage too.