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  • Jenny: More than ever, Seattle is a city of income inequality.

  • Gucci purses on one arm, and battered messenger bags on the other.

  • 20 year old autumn brown has been carrying this one since high school.

  • >> This is an Americano? Do you need any room for cream?

  • >> Jenny: Autumn, she's one of the latte makers, 33 hours a week, and a full time student.

  • >> Right now, I make $11 an hour. >> Jenny: That's Seattle's new minimum wage.

  • Is it enough to survive in this expensive city?

  • >> I rely a lot on shift meals, food from work, just kind of food from work, so yes.

  • >> Jenny: Autumn knows thousand stretch a dollar.

  • She doesn't go out, cuts her own hair. >> I've been pretty much doing the same thing

  • since high school. >> Jenny: Like the roughly 100,000 workers

  • in Seattle who make less than $15 an hour, housing takes the biggest bite out of autumn's

  • carefully crafted budget. She shares a house on a busy road near northgate

  • mall with two roommates and a roommate's 3 year old son.

  • >> It's $2200 a month. >> Jenny: That's doable at $11 an hour.

  • >> It just comes at the price of having so much on my plate at one time, it's really

  • stressful, and if I make one mistake, I feel like it could all just fall apart.

  • >> Jenny: That may already be happening. >> I drove into a fire hydrant, and now, I

  • owe the city about $3,000. ��

  • >> Jenny: Autumn doesn't know where that money is going to come from.

  • Her biggest fear is that she'll have to drop out of college and won't be able to become

  • a web designer. Imagine if she made the federal minimum wage,

  • $7.25 an hour. >> Just seems really unfair.

  • >> Jenny: $77 a week. That's the national average of what minimum

  • wage workers have to spend on transportation and food and other life necessities.

  • �� $77 a week for bread, milk, cereal, oranges,

  • toilet paper, razors, and laundry detergent. >> And it's like an alligator jaws that's

  • just getting wider and wider and people are being caught in that crunch.

  • 74 �� >> Reporter: Diana pierce felt set with the

  • real cost of basic needs. Pierce, a senior lecturer at the university

  • of Washington school of social work has created an alternative method, which is being used

  • in 37 states. According to her self sufficiency standard,

  • even Seattle's minimum wage, the highest in the country, isn't a family wage.

  • >> Two adults with a preschool and a school age in Seattle each have to earn now well

  • over $15 an hour, each of them working full time year round, just to meet those basic

  • needs, with no extras. >> If you're, you know, a low wage worker

  • and you don't have insurance, things could snowball very quickly.

  • Housing especially is a big issue. >> Jenny: Meet Willie fowler.

  • He lives in Everett building planes. >> The job is like assembly, it's for Boeing.

  • And pretty much, I do assembly work put in and gather parts.

  • And I send them all down the line using heavy power tools.

  • >> Jenny: Fowler lives in Seattle's queen Anne neighborhood, in tent city, a homeless

  • camp at Seattle Pacific university. >> Currently, right now, I work at the tent.

  • So I don't make a lot of money at all, just enough to get by.

  • Now, I make 9 bucks. >> Jenny: The first thing Willie noticed about

  • Seattle when he moved here from Nevada, it's tough to get a permanent full time job.

  • Willie was a medic in the military. >> With my military experience and my background,

  • coming here to Seattle, it wasn't good enough. And that was one of the things that I was

  • just sucked about that. >> Jenny: The second thing Willie noticed,

  • in Seattle, landlords call the shots. >> First, last month's rent, a security deposit,

  • a damage deposit, which is different from the security deposit.

  • If you got pets, they want a pet deposit. This is where I sleep.

  • >> Jenny: Four years ago, Willie was living in an apartment with his wife and two stepsons

  • and a baby on the way. >> And then what really made it hard at the

  • time was when I got let go. And finally, we ended up getting evicted.

  • >> We, meaning all of us together, pay when families fall apart.

  • >> Take this out. >> Jenny: Fast forward to today.

  • Willie is divorced, his baby girl lives with her mother.

  • Willie and his fiancee are saving up to leave tent city and Seattle.

  • >> Just recently found out that my significant other is expecting another one.

  • >> Jenny: Willie believes it will be easier for him to support his new family some place

  • where the job market isn't so competitive. >> I can't imagine how people that run these

  • businesses can sleep at night, knowing that their employees are not able to pay their

  • bills. >> Already, what's next for you?

  • Anything else for you today? >> Jenny: Michael McGovern moved to Seattle

  • from Florida because he heard Seattle's economy was booming.

  • >> Two egg sandwiches off the grill. >> Jenny: It's a bet that's paid off for him.

  • >> Due to the new contract signing, I saw approximately a $3 an hour wage increase.

  • >> Jenny: Michael works at Seattle co op in Capitol Hill, where every employee already

  • makes at least $15 an hour, because of this. ��

  • Central co op's general manager took the message of Martin luther king's March on Washington

  • to heart. He also did the math.

  • >> If we think about the $2 that Dr. King and the other folks were asking for in '63,

  • and we adjust for inflation, that comes out to about the $15.36 that we're offering right

  • now. >> Jenny: He proposed to offering the highest

  • grocery store wage to employees at the co op and the others said okay.

  • >> I think our store is one that others need to hear.

  • It is possible to be sustainable and keep a thriving business going, and also make sure

  • that you treat people well. >> Jenny: The raise has allowed Michael and

  • his wife the luxury of dreaming about their future in Seattle.

  • >> We moved out of an apartment, that was a one bedroom apartment, and now, we have

  • a house that will allow us to have a family. And now, we can afford to plan, as opposed

  • to just afford to live. >> Do you want your receipt?

  • Okay. I'll recycle that for you.

Jenny: More than ever, Seattle is a city of income inequality.

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Surviving on Minimum Wage | IN Close

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    VoiceTube posted on 2016/09/29
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