PEORIA, Ill.– While many choose to work multiple jobs, in Illinois, more than 300,000 people are forced to work more than one job. With both sales and income tax rates being above the national average in Peoria, it is not uncommon to find Peorians looking for extra work.
While employers must pay the minimum wage, which is $8.25, many say that’s not enough to live on. Based on a set of calculations by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the amount an individual must earn to be able to support themselves in Peoria is $11.34.
“This idea of a living wage is an absolute bare minimum. It’s food transportation, shelter, personal care, but hardly anything else,” Collin Corbett said. “So any form of entertainment or like any luxurious or even eating out at any sort of restaurant is excluded from this living wage number. So if you want any sort of reasonable standards of living beyond bare necessity you are going to need a higher wage than that, or you’re going to need to work more than 40 hours a week.”
The average income in Peoria is a little more than $27,000; a survey from MIT shows a single-person household can spend almost $20,000 a year on personal necessitates including food, medical, housing, and transportation. This can become a problem for those who are unable to work multiple jobs and are only making $8.25 an hour.
“Especially with a lot of low-wage jobs they make sure that their employees are not considered full time so they don’t have to pay any sort of benefits. They Especially don’t want to pay any sort of overtime to low-wage employees,” Corbett said.
While some neighbors do have the ability to work more than one job, they are still scraping pennies to make ends meet. Rachel Buss has been working two jobs for more than six years. She is currently a part-time waitress at the Fox Pub and Cafe and also works full-time at Unity Point Health as a medical office assistant.
Balancing both jobs, Buss still makes less than $30,000 a year. She said she hopes she doesn’t have to do this for the rest of her life.
“I know I probably make less than $30,000 a year,” Buss said. “It’ kind of shocking in a way. I don’t think I know anyone that can really live on that and be comfortable, and set, and not worry I guess if they are going to make their bills or take care of themselves.”
Someone living alone in Peoria making minimum wage tend to have to work extra hours or multiple jobs to make ends meet. MIT says once taxes are taken out of a paycheck, a person making $8.25 an hour is at the poverty level. Their check can reflect an hourly wage of $5.84 an hour.
“It’s kind of sad to me because I think we should be able to work to live. We shouldn’t have to live to work. I do believe everybody deserves to have a living wage, so no matter what job you hold I think everyone deserves to at last take care of themselves and be comfortable,” she said.
Buss said she thinks a living wage in Peoria should be upward of $14.00. She said she hopes Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s decision to increase the minimum wage to $15.00 will help Illinois families.