This Is Your Circus. These Are Your Monkeys.

Yahoo finance just posted this article, The hourly wage needed to rent a two-bedroom home in every state with this picture:costof2bedroomhome

Just in case you wanted to dispute my credentials regarding the validity of this piece – You’re welcome to see my resume on LinkedIn: Stella Fox, Certified Business Coach. For those of you who don’t – here’s the highlights: I’m 34 years old, a certified business coach and one of my credentials is a bachelors in finance with a minor in economics.

2017minimumwage

The argument made is “Go to college and get a job that’s not minimum wage”. As a business owner who helps other business owners – the average rate of pay that most business owners pay others is substantially higher than minimum wage, but it’s still not enough to sustain a 2 bedroom house payment and the reasoning for this is “The work they do is not worth that rate of pay”. Hence the backlash from business owners about being asked to pay higher minimum wages – the catch 22. If business owners can’t afford to pay a livable wage – they won’t. That’s how business works. It only works if it’s profitable. Otherwise it’s subsidized or a hobby – hobbies cost money, not make it. BTW: That’s why avocado toast is $15…

For those of you looking to hand the entire brunt of responsibility on millennials I’d like to point out they are not the ones currently cutting the paychecks. They will be, but that’s another topic for another day.  As it stands – pick a state – any state and tell me where the minimum wage meets the criteria for renting a two bedroom house: I’ll give you a hint – there isn’t one. More importantly – this criteria is based on the exact same criteria used to determine “Credit Worthiness” in regards to getting a car loan, business loan (if you’re the type), a credit card, or any other number of today’s “cost of doing business” day-today functions. We have reached a point in society where rising home costs are excluding 2 generations from any type of financial security from a 40 hour workweek regardless of whether or not they are educated.

The ethical issue is figuring out a balance for businesses to stay in business and afford to have humans employed there. A logistical nightmare for a first generation college graduate drowning in student debt for the degree they couldn’t afford to obtain, for the job that no longer provides a livable wage, with short sighted business practices that in no way account for the “snowflake” who is undervalued, over-stressed, and feels hopeless. Millennials aren’t buying homes. Builders aren’t building them either, there’s no money in it. Rents are only going to get higher. This is what slavery looks like in 2018.

It’s so easy to say “your financial situation isn’t my problem”. It’s the #1 objection the most conservative of politicians express in regards to their stances on most things. But that’s lazy and self interested and this is in fact – THE problem. For business owners looking for labor and looking to reduce labor costs, there is a bare minimum that you have to set in order to achieve a meaningful balance in a quality workforce. Otherwise it’s called slavery folks and it was abolished in 1865. Quite literally: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

If you’re an employer – your job is to build a company that sustains its workforce – or it won’t have one. That’s what good stewardship is. You can’t depend on “that’s the way it’s been done/that’s the rate of pay for the last xx years” as a justification for why you don’t pay people a livable wage. The lack of education about how to build a business that does this – ensures I’ll always have work because business ownership is not intuitive.

Business owners are the only people who can solve this problem. Not politics. We have to do better business. If you choose to continue to believe this isn’t your problem as an employer, don’t be surprised to find more competition in your industry/field of choice as your employees jump ship and start their own leaner, more effective/efficient companies.   This is your circus. These are your monkeys.


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