Two Ways to Fix Inequality

By:  Judith Levine

Working people can't afford to eat. Last year one in five Americans was on food stamps. In Vermont, the number was one in six. These people work: Six in 10 households nationally earned money the month they started getting help; nine in 10 worked in the previous or following year.

People earning the minimum wage can't afford to eat if they also want to live indoors. With heat.

At Vermont's 2013 minimum wage, $8.46 an hour (it's now $8.73), two full-time, year-round job holders bring in a total of about $2,900 a month. According to Hunger Free Vermont's analysis, based on the basic-needs budget of the Vermont Legislative Joint Fiscal Office (JFO), their bills leave them a deficit of about $2,100 each month.

Of course, not all families have two earners. Almost a third of Vermont's children live with one parent, and a third of the state's single mothers are poor even though they work full time.

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