6 Sep 2022


Low-Wage America: The Harsh Reality of Life on the Minimum Wage

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Academic level: College

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It is estimated that about 30 million Americans are doing jobs that pay poverty wages that cannot help them meet their daily basic needs. Even though there are a number of factors that make many people be poor, poverty is always associated with laziness (Straus, 2013). One of the main myths about poor people is that they are lazy, as they are not willing to work hard to earn more income. However, I think the myth is not true because poor people always work harder compared to wealthy people. Therefore, despite their hard work, poor people remain in poverty because they earn poverty wages. 

The story that was aired by the National Public Radio (NPR), especially with regard to Laressa Matthews, improved my understanding of the connection between poverty and laziness. Matthews is not poor because she is lazy, but because she earns low wages. She is still languishing in poverty despite the fact that she works 13 hours a day (Adams, 2003). I know that lack of education, skills, and economic opportunities are what make people be poor and not laziness. 

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I think the only way Matthews can manage a minimum living standards is to increase the number of children that she takes care of while their mothers are away. With each mother paying a constant fee, she is likely to increase her income by taking care of more children. Alternatively, she can do other side-jobs to increase her income. However, this will be challenging because she is already working 13 hours a day. 

Finally, I think the main reason why Matthews cannot earn more despite her hard work is that she is paid low wages. Some of her clients are also earning low wages and can hardly pay her enough money. Hence, the vicious cycle of poverty is what makes people like Matthews remain poor despite their hard work. The structural marginalization also makes the poor to remain in poverty. 


Adams, N. (2003, June 6). Low-Wage America: Laressa Matthews. National Public Radio Audio Clip . Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1289869 

Strauss, V. (2013, October 28). Five stereotypes about poor families and education. The Washington Post . Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer- sheet/wp/2013/10/28/five-stereotypes-about-poor-families-and- education/?utm_term=.bf1a8f43a73b 

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