I can't believe we are still debating the minimum wage and the perception of some that it should be enough to raise a family on. It is not and was never intended to be a "living wage."

Employers generally pay the minimum wage to entry-level, low-skilled employees. Retail, fast food, and other hourly gigs commonly held by students and others new to the workforce will often pay minimum wage. After-school jobs, part-time jobs, and seasonal jobs are usually not good-paying jobs, and they rarely offer benefits, either. This is not a new concept.

Here's a little secret: companies have a right to make a profit without giving it to you. Here is another secret: you don't have to work there.

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Minimum wage-paying jobs are essentially starter jobs. They buy gas for the guzzler while you complete your education or training and move into your career job, whatever that might be. That is the job that will pay your rent, the cable bill and determine whether you drive a 1976 Ford Pinto or a 2021 Lexus.

Somehow there is this idea that McDonald's and Walmart are expected to support your lifestyle. They are not, and they will not. Get an education, get a real job, and stop expecting the world to care for you. The $15-$17 an hour being offered now for entry-level positions will not last long, so grab it while you can.

If your skillset and education are such that you cannot obtain a job that pays more than minimum wage, start there and work your way up. Work two jobs if necessary. Also, seek out training that will help you to qualify for a better-paying job. There is plenty of help available. If you are unwilling to do any of that, you'd better adjust your expectations downward.

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The high cost of unskilled labor is forcing businesses to adjust by automating. Soon there will be no more jobs for low-skilled workers. Better get to cracking the books.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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