Poverty is defined as the “deprivation of common necessities that determine the quality of life, including food, clothing, shelter and safe drinking water, and may also include the deprivation of opportunities to learn, to obtain better employment to escape poverty, and/or to enjoy the respect of fellow citizens.”
A couple days ago, I was reading Punk Rock HR Laurie Ruettimann’s comments to a Yahoo Finance piece titled “10 Reasons You Aren’t Rich” so I clicked over to read the article. While some of the author’s points may have merit, I can’t help but wonder about the timing. Our country is faced with a history-making financial crisis and the article implies that people aren’t rich because they drive a nice car.
The reality is that poverty is on the increase because the prices of everyday items like food and energy are going up and wages are not increasing at an equal pace. In addition, the credit crunch is not allowing companies to grow and expand their businesses. So commerce is stalled, which means that employee growth is stagnant while the cost of everything around us continues to rise.
Here’s a real example. Let’s say I’m a room attendant at a hotel. I make $10 hour ($20,800 annually). I’m divorced and have two kids. According to the government, poverty is $17,600. So this chart implies that, according to the government, I’m not poor and that I don’t need financial assistance.
But the fact of the matter is, after I pay Uncle Sam, I probably don’t have enough money for health insurance. And, I certainly don’t have enough money for a fancy car or a 401(k) plan for that matter.
Business owners need to realize the odds are great that at least one of their employees is living under or close to the poverty level.
It’s time to get our heads out of the sand.1