Alejandrino Honorato’s journey began with a smuggler who led him across the Rio Grande, into the Texas desert with little food or water and finally to a field where he picked tobacco to pay his passage. Living illegally in a labor camp, he didn’t know lawmakers in Washington were deciding his future.
Tyree Johnson scrubs himself with a bar of soap in a McDonald’s bathroom and puts on fresh deodorant. He stashes his toiletries in a Kenneth Cole bag, a gift from his mother who works the counter at Macy’s, and hops on an El train. His destination: another McDonald’s.
Gina Deluca says she was shocked when she moved to New Mexico from California and discovered that her hourly wage as a waitress fell to a federal minimum of $2.13. Her old state required at least $6.75 for all workers at the time.
The U.S. government paid almost $80 million in unemployment benefits during the worst of the economic downturn to households that made more than $1 million, including a record $29.9 million in 2010, tax records show.
Jerry Limbeck and his son Andrew both got the bad news the same day in October, in the form of a folder with a color-coded sticker. It meant that after months of assembling turbines, they were losing their jobs in the Windsor, Colorado, factory of Vestas Wind Systems AS.
In the old days, the U.S. program for foreign-student visas helped developing nations and brought diversity to then white-bread American campuses. Today, the F-1 program, as it is known, has become a profit center for universities and a wage-suppression tool for the technology industry.
Automatic cuts set to take effect today will pinch U.S. government functions as the country enters a more austere era that could push discretionary spending as a share of the economy to its lowest level in at least 50 years.