|Vermont has some of the most progressive wage-and-hour laws in the country, but low-income workers are still struggling.|
But as the freezing cold of a Vermont fall turned into winter, it slowly dawned on Kulsic that he might need to make a detour. He’d taken out a loan of $16,000 to cover the remainder of his expenses, and couldn’t earn enough to make the requisite payments on it—so he dropped out of college and started working at a local grocery store for $8.75 an hour, pennies above the state’s minimum wage.
After six months, he received a raise, to $8.85 an hour, and in January he'll get another, when the state's minimum wage climbs to $9.15—but raises don't do much good.
Kulsic only gets 33 to 35 hours a week, and struggles to pay for heat, food, and transportation. He typically rides a bike the three miles to work, but his bike broke, so these days, he walks or takes the bus. He’s asked for more hours—or more consistent hours, at least—but his employer, whose name he asked me not to use, doesn’t want to give...