I don't normally like to use numerals in text, but since I'm doing math, I'm going to here. Also, I know some of the steps are extra. That's fine. I like it this way.
I make $11 an hour. So since I have one of the few full-time jobs where I actually work 40 hours a week, that means my gross weekly income is $440. But those 40 hours aren't the only time my job demands from me. I start work at 8:30, but my commute begins at 7:00, when I leave my house to go to the bus station to pick up the bus to the place I work. Then I get out of work at 5:00 but don't get home until 6:30. So there's an extra 3 hours appended to every day's 8 hours. So in a week my job takes 55 hours out of my life.
Adjusting for that, my real wage is $8 an hour.
But wait--if I'm working more than 40 hours, those extra hours are overtime and I should be getting time and a half. So...let's see, this is the part where I have to start writing it down (embarrassingly, about ten years ago I was really good at math; now, not so much. I have to do something about that). I'm trying to find my actual wage, so let's call that x. Time and a half will be 1.5x. So
40x + (15)(1.5x) = 440
Right? So then
40x + 22.5x = 440
62.5x = 440
x = 440/62.5
x = 7.04
My real wage is $7.04 an hour. Depressing. That's only $0.49 higher than federal minimum wage, and is $0.36 lower than Rhode Island's. Admittedly, this isn't entirely fair. I use the time on the bus to read, and when I get off the bus in the afternoon I run home to get in the daily twenty minutes or so of running that I'd want to do anyway. But still--this is time that I have to spend in a certain way. My choice of how to use that time has been taken away from me by my job. I make $7.04 for every hour where my activities are dictated by my employer. Sure, it's better than many, and at least I'm not currently one of the people helping my state be the Swinginest, Most Unemployedest in the country (Now With More Unemployment Than Michigan!!!), but it's still very silly.
There's one woman in my office who's salaried and who, every Tuesday, reliably has to stay three or four extra hours, for not only no overtime, but no extra pay at all. There have been people like that at every job I've ever had. And this is not a woman who's passionate about her work; she's not a dedicated scientist or an enthusiastic programmer or a studious researcher or a wise-cracking reporter or whatever. She works in payroll.
Americans have exactly the wrong attitude about work. We seem to feel that we owe our employers something, when it's obvious to me that it should be the other way around. I think it's Stockholm Syndrome. I may write more about this later.
Depressing link of the day: R.I. has nation’s worst jobless rate