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Most people think low-wage workers are teenagers or high-school dropouts…but that's not the case, Beth says. "They're adults like the rest of us trying to take care of their families," Beth says. "Most have a high school degree—many have college degrees. It's every mom and dad in America."

Another misconception is that low-wage workers are "lazy." While Morgan and Alex were living on minimum wage for 30 Days, they experienced just the opposite. "I worked harder bussing tables than at any desk job I ever had," Alex says.

James, an administrative assistant who makes $9 an hour, says that because he makes more than minimum wage, people think it is a lot of money…but it's not. He's even considered getting a second job, but he doesn't have any paid days off to go look for additional employment.

The future doesn't have to be bleak for James and the 30 million Americans who live paycheck to paycheck, Beth tells Oprah.

"We can make choices about what kind of America we want," she says. "We need to ensure people have a living wage and health benefits and time off to be with their families."
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FROM: Inside the Lives of People Living on Minimum Wage
Published on April 14, 2006

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