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Neumann Comments on Minimum Wage

Housing was Barbara Ehrenreich's major concern during her stints as a poverty- wage worker while researching "Nickel and Dimed." A full-time job at minimum wage hasn't been enough to keep a family of three out of poverty since 1969, nor a family of two since 1982, according to the federal Department of Health and Human Services. GEORGE NEUMANN thinks that's beside the point. "People take jobs with low initial earning to get training, and then advance," said Neumann, George Daly Professor of Economics at the University of Iowa. Neumann, who calls Ehrenreich's book "awful," points out few workers earn as little as the $5.15 hourly minimum wage. Very few support a household, he said. "Virtually no one who's on the minimum wage is in that position," he said. Most minimum wage earners are "teenagers, and a lesser extent post-65 workers."


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