Martin David Kiar, Broward County Commissioner, Reflects on Living on Minimum Wage for a Week

Categories: Broward News

Broward County Commissioner Martin David Kiar recently volunteered to accept the current federal minimum wage for a week in an attempt to bring more attention to the issue. His experience was eye-opening.

"It was pretty tough," Kiar, who went the week of July 15 living off the Florida minimum of $7.79 an hour, tells New Times.

"I can definitely tell you it doesn't go far."

Kiar spent most of his week traveling via bus to avoid gas expenses. One of his bus rides, in particular, left quite an impression on him.

"I met a woman on the bus who couldn't afford a car. She lived in North Lauderdale and worked in Hollywood, so her travel time was three hours to work and three hours back home. Think about how long her days are."

Kiar also met a man at the grocery store who assisted in his shopping. With only a little over $40 available to spend on groceries, the commissioner was devoid of many of the food options he's become accustomed to.

"It was basically generic cereal for breakfast and peanut butter and jelly for lunch," he says. "A lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and chicken and plaintains for dinner."

According to Kiar, the average minimum-wage Broward County resident would have only $106.24 available per week for a family of four, after housing fees.

Factor in food and travel and that doesn't leave much available for entertainment or savings.

"What people would say to me would is 'I have $100 a week -- what if my child gets sick?' There are so many things that can happen that make it so stressful," he explained.

Kiar is back to his normal lifestyle this week, but that doesn't mean he's finished with his quest to raise wages.

"I saw a recent segment concerning minimum wage on MSNBC," he says. "It said that had the wages kept up with inflation since about 1965, minimum wage would be between $10 and $11 right now. That really puts things in perspective. It's incredibly important Broward County safeguards living wages, and I'd like to expand upon them."

Follow Dennis Bovell on Twitter @dbovell.

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Minimum wage was never suppose to support a family of four..


@Valigator This is true. Any household of four would qualify for all kinds of assistance if the entire household was only making roughly $16k a year. Having said that, it is true that minimum wage is too low. There should not be a minimum wage, but instead a living wage. Not a "live large" living wage, but even one person is hard pressed to make minimum wage stretch. Sadly, the minimum wage jobs are usually the most punishing to one's body and soul so demanding someone to work more than 40 hours just to survive is wrong. Before I am discredited, I say that as an employer that pays a fair living wage even for unskilled workers. I take home a little less because of this, but I sleep very well at night... and so do my employees.


I am not totally against raising minimum wages ..its just that there are aot of variables and raising min.wage amounts is  not an  island unto itself . We have yet to realize what Obamacare will do to employers and even taking that out of the equation, should the minimum wage be universial for employers who do provide benefits as well as those who do not? Do we increase minimum wage for those who are in the country illegally? If not do employers have more of an incentive to hire illegals to avoid complying? Will E-verify be put into place to ensure employers are not funding a family of 8 back in Honduras. Will Unions be mandated to comply with e-verify? The Hotel workers Union has deemed it unlawful for those who have contracts with them (disney, resorts international) to inquire about status.  It is estmated roughly 50 billion is sent in remittances each year back to native countries.  Historically minimum wage has been increased when the economy is at its healthiest. Then one should consider if we are so generous as to increase wages, what about those on Social security who have contributed to the "system" all their lives and are still debating how they will feed themselves this month?

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