There’s a big difference between having a job, and having a job that pays enough to live on. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Two years ago, 400,000 Texas workers were paid that -- or less.
The KERA News series One Crisis Away: Inside a Neighborhood explores life with low wages in Jubilee Park, the Dallas neighborhood between Interstate 30 and Fair Park. Explore the digital project here -- it includes photos, videos, stories, maps and more.
The final installment focuses on people who live on very little money. Many residents in Jubilee Park know what it feels like to watch a paycheck vanish in a haze of bills, rent and childcare.
Tricia Oliver lives down the street from the Jubilee Park Community Center. She moved to Dallas from New York this summer. She had two jobs when she first got to town, one at Whole Foods, another at Radio Shack. That meant working seven days a week.
“Some days I would go to work at 4 o’clock in the morning to Whole Foods, leave there at 11 and then run to Radio Shack and do another four or five hours,” Oliver says.
It added up to 60-hour weeks. She barely had time to breathe. After saving enough for an apartment, she dropped the second job.
She now works 35 hours a week at Whole Foods and makes 10 dollars an hour. That’s 38 percent more than the minimum wage. She doesn’t get government assistance or child support. Ten bucks an hour is it.
“My reality is that rent is due on the first,” Oliver says. “And I try to pay that before the first even comes. The water bill is due, light bill is due, cell phone bill.”
Find out what researchers consider a living wage for someone like Tricia here.
Below, watch a video of Sovannsamnang “Soso” Soksovann, a Dallas Police Department civilian Public Service Officer. He fled Cambodia’s killing fields and came to the United States in 1984. “Soso” moved to Dallas in 2001 and now works and lives with his young family in Jubilee Park.