Recently, I attended a meeting at Mount Airy Casino where the Pocono Chamber of Commerce presented one of their overviews of the economic situation in Monroe County.
They distributed a several page report on job trends, wages, industry overviews and a detailed demographic of those working in Monroe County and the median incomes for the jobs.
With minimum wage stuck at $7.25/hour, many in this report have very little chance over the next five years to see much change in their personal financial outlook.
With 73% of those who work in Monroe County combined having no degree higher than a high school diploma, this area also does not have many making more than minimum wage. Given that the median income is $51,000, we are looking at what might be called a community in need of assistance.
Christ Episcopal Church’s Food Pantry fulfills many needs for those in need of assistance and I am talking about for those who are employed full time. This is an important point. Many presume that those coming to our food pantry are unemployed and all would be well if only they got a job.
From these simple statistics we see that is not necessarily the case. And what’s more, if a worker is making minimum wage, let’s think about what a paycheck pays for. Think about your average grocery bill. Obviously, that is not your only expense nor is it anyone else’s. But also think about the increased cost of food over the past 3 years.
Recently, I did a simple calculation. I had gone to the grocery store to buy soy milk, fruits, vegetables for a salad, a bottle of salad dressing, a loaf of bread and some bottled water. This cost about $60, which already seems excessive. But if you divide that by $7.25, you realize that amounts to over 8 hours of work, without taxes being subtracted, and no other essentials covered. And none of these “essentials” would feed a family for long.
As one more number to contemplate: 34% of families in Monroe County are a single parent family, meaning one income.
We must do better than this. Surely, we can. But we cannot raise children into health from an environment of poverty.
Please consider donating your time and financial assistance as you are able. This is a community project.