People think the hardships facing the poor are mainly about low hourly wages. That's only about half the problem. People in lower level jobs tend to have lower levels of job security than people in other jobs. They can be fired for the slightest reason. Something might not have even been their fault, but from the management's perspective the employee is easily replaceable. Sometimes the manager thinks something might have been a certain employee's fault, so it's more convenient to just fire them and not take any chances. I've read many stories about fast food restaurants making mistakes, thinking an employee was scheduled to show up to work when they really weren't. The employee is then automatically fired. In many regions where there are shortages of housing, apartment renters are often forced into 12-month contracts. That means they have to commit to paying rent for 12 months. Sometimes they'll have a pay-per-month option but that's usually significantly more expensive and the rents would be unaffordable to renters living there long-term. (Just an example, in many parts of Southern California the rent for a one-bedroom apartment with a 12 month contract might be $1300 per month, compared to $1550 for the month to month option). So imagine you're already barely making ends meet and struggling to pay the rent and then suddenly your income disappears. It could take several months to find another job, and you're not sure whether to try waiting it out for a month or two (depleting your small savings) or to immediately move out and have to pay a big penalty. The event could also ruin your credit history, if you're not able to come up with the money, and in that case you might not be able to find another apartment in the future (most apartments now do credit checks on all new applicants and will not rent to those with a tarnished credit history). In the meantime, you might be moving into an overcrowded unpleasant situation, into a small apartment with someone in desperate circumstances, and there's still rent that has to be paid there. It can be very expensive to lose your job, even if only temporarily. Not everyone has friends and family who are able to (or willing) to take them in. Or moving in with them can strain those relationships. I'll also point out here that sometimes this can put a limit on where people can live and look for work, because they don't have any family there that could take them in in a housing emergency. As you can see, when you're not earning a lot of money and the rents are so expensive, the decisions are not so simple. Then there is the issue of hours. In a lot of low-wage jobs now the employees are only getting 25-35 hours a week. So why not just get a second job, some might ask. It's often not that simple. The managers want the employee to be able to show up at hours convenient for them. In many cases it's not possible to work two different jobs because the scheduling would conflict. A lot of corporate managers in the current low-wage job climate are not flexible. In many cases an applicant is not given the job if they already have a part-time job somewhere else. The managers tell this to the applicants up front. An employee might not know the hours they're going to be scheduled until a week before. They're expected to be available anytime they're needed (with the exception of the night shift, but even then on rare occasions the manager might put pressure on an employee to work longer than their scheduled shift). So you combine the issue of job security with lack of hours, and you can see the problem. It's not just an issue of wages. If workers had a guarantee of receiving minimum wage 40 hours per week, the situation might not be so bad, but that's very often not the case. Businesses like their labor force to be more flexible, but that also puts a burden on their workforce. If we are going to deal with the issue of poverty and the struggles of the minimum wage workforce, this is something that needs to be considered and addressed.