Minimum wage NEVER is equal to a living wage ANYWHERE in the USA. But when the employer insists on a 39 1/2 hour work week (to avoid benefits) that's essentially what it's become.
I personally think the commute for low-wage employees back and forth to SoWal from "affordable" areas accounts for at least 2 hours of unpaid work per day. So at $12.50 ph for 8 hours in SoWal would be $100 per day which (if you add on the 2-hour commute) would come out to $10 per hour. Considering the additional cost of gas, wear & tear on the car, a jacked-up car insurance bill and commuting headaches...is it any wonder some would prefer just to roll out of bed and put in their 10 hours for 4-days at the DeFuniak Tastee-Freeze for a couple bucks less and getting another local part-time job to make up the couple bucks difference on the 5th day?
Just think--these poor souls have to work 1 1/2 hours to buy a fish sandwich off the bar menu at Cafe 30A (just as an example). Someone is making the money at the businesses in the area....employers are going to have to start narrowing their profit margins (or raising their prices) to pay their workers more (and yes, that may mean paying a living wage) or they will find it difficult to staff their establishments when the customers with money come rolling in the door.
The cheap labor who used to live in the surrounding communities have been pushed out of the area to make way for upscale development--now they want them to make a long commute back down in heavy, dangerous traffic for low wages? I don't think so.
Shelly, I appreciate your look at this. Working out another step brings forth another question. If these businesses, including restaurants, raise their prices to help pay higher wages, that employee to which you refer will now have more money to pay for that now even more expensive sandwich at Cafe 30A, but he wouldn't he still have to work 1.5 hours to do so, and wouldn't everyone else have to pay more too, including people not in the service industry?