Former Ohio governor Ted Strickland ran out of money and walked instead of taking taxis. Rep. Mark Takano of California tweeted a picture of the black beans and rice he ate for dinner, while Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio learned buying pizza and fast food aren't good choices when every dollar counts.
These Democrats and others lived on minimum wage for a week to highlight the need for an increase in the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour — something that hasn't occurred in five years. They had $77 to spend, the average weekly amount a minimum-wage worker has to spend after taxes and housing, under theLive the Wagechallenge.
"I didn't make it,"Strickland wrote Monday inPolitico, chronicling his struggles with eating healthy and learning he couldn't stretch his budget. "I know I'll never be able to truly walk in the shoes of a minimum wage worker, but experiencing just some of the decisions this income requires on a daily basis is enough to understand that we need to do better for these hardworking families."
Congressional Republicans have balked at the call from President Obama and Democrats to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, arguing that such a move would hurt the economy in the long run by costing jobs. The issue divides Republicans, with former presidential candidatesMitt Romneyand Rick Santorum saying recently the minimum wage should be given a boost.
A report by the non-partisanCongressional Budget Officereleased earlier this year showed that increasing the minimum wage could lift 900,000 workers out of poverty — but cost 500,000 jobs.
However, the Labor Department released areport on July 18 that runs counter to what CBO found. Its data show the 13 states that have raised the minimum wage since January have had slightly higher job growth than the 37 states that did not.
Ryan, the Ohio congressman, shared some of his experiences in a Facebook post. "My wife and I already have a better understanding of these challenges and hope that our sharing can bring awareness to the public in order to bring about the fundamental changes we want to see in our country," he wrote on Friday.