Monthly Archives: February 2007

Report Shows Alaska Leaves More Than $30 Million in Federal Food Assistance Unclaimed

On February 12, as part of the Alaska Food Coalition annual member meeting in Juneau, Food Bank of Alaska released a new report, “Empty Plates in the Greatland: Alaska Leaves Millions in Federal Food Assistance Unclaimed.”

At a time when Alaska’s rates of hunger and food insecurity are rising, only 59 percent of Alaskans who are eligible for the Food Stamp Program are participating. As a result, Alaska leaves approximately $29 million in food stamp benefits unclaimed each year—money that could be helping Alaskans feed their families and providing revenue to Alaska’s grocery stores. Participation in the program is lowest in Alaska’s largest cities, Anchorage and Fairbanks. Most people who are eligible for food stamps but not participating are not aware of their eligibility.

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Minimum Wage FAQ (3 of 3)

How will people be helped if the minimum wage in Alaska was raised?

  • “In Alaska, the Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a two-bedroom apartment is $931 . In order to afford this level of rent and utilities, without paying more than 30% of income on housing, a household must earn $3,103 monthly or $37,235 annually. Assuming a 40-hour work week, 52 weeks per year, this level of income translates into a Housing Wage of $17.90”(Alaska Out of Reach Report)

Minimum Wage FAQ (2 of 3)

What is inflation?

  • Inflation is the rising costs of products that serve to devalue the buying power of money. What this does over time is to cause minimum wages to actually be worth less, even though the amount stays the same. So this means that every year the nations poorest are getting even poorer when the wages are not inflation proofed.

What does inflation proofing mean?

  • Inflation proofing means that the minimum wage amount is periodically adjusted with the rise of inflation to keep the buying power at the same level. So for example if the minimum wage was at $6 and Read the rest of this entry

Minimum Wage FAQ (1 of 3)

Why is minimum wage important?

  • This is an issue that has a large impact on many people in America. Minimum wage is important because it specifies the absolute lowest wage that someone can be paid.
  • “Everyone should have the opportunity to earn a decent wage […] This is equally as true for a middle-class youth working to raise money for college as it is for a single mother supporting a family. The minimum wage is not just about helping the impoverished. It is about fairness, the value of work, and the opportunities that work provides”(Chapman).

Who does minimum wage changes affect?

  • The people that a change in minimum wage would affect the most are those that are closest to the poverty line. An increase of a dollar an hour could have a very large impact in a poverty stricken household. Read the rest of this entry

Raising the Minimum Wage in Alaska: Bad for Business?

HB 56 has the rather innocuous title, “An Act relating to minimum wages; and providing for an effective date.” However, according to the sponsors, the bill holds great promise for low income working Alaskans. Here, in the sponsors’ own words, they describe the circumstances and the promise:

Alaska’s minimum wage has not been increased since 2002, when it rose to $7.15/hr. Since that time, fuel and other living costs have increased significantly, and other states have increased their minimum wages above Alaska’s. California is slated to increase ITS minimum wage to $8/hr next year. Likewise, Congress is debating a federal minimum wage of $7.25/hr. Alaska’s higher living costs justify a minimum wage increase. On an annual basis, the current minimum wage pays a full time employee $14,000/year. That is an inadequate wage for a full-time worker. People who work for a living should be able to afford basic housing, food and clothing, and provide for their families. Read the rest of this entry