Scraping By On Minimum Wage

Actress Lauren Bacall, whose glamour and no-nonsense attitude with her male counterparts have captivated audiences for decades, is being awarded an Honorary Oscar by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Also being honored are producer-director Roger Corman, cinematographer Gordon Willis and producer John Calley. Warner Brothers

This is the sixth in a month-long series of reports called "Making Ends Meet" about how families are coping with the tough economy, unemployment and smaller retirement accounts.

At the food bank, among the homeless, the unemployed and the aging, there are those who work a full 40 hours a week and still need a handout to make ends meet.

What comes home from the food bank goes a long way toward feeding Teresita Benitez and her sons, 10-year-old Nico and 6-year-old Bruce.

As CBS News Correspondent John Blackstone reports, Benitez is one of millions of workers striving to get by on the minimum wage or little more.

She earns $305 every two weeks. At the end of the month, when the bills are paid, almost nothing's left.

"It's only like $32," she says.

That's little more than $1 a day remaining after her 40-hour week at a San Francisco service station. She's paid $8.50 an hour, significantly above the minimum wage of $6.75, but still well below what it takes to live in an expensive city.

Low-wage workers are most often minorities or recent immigrants. Benitez immigrated from the Philippines six years ago and the American dream has been harder to find than she imagined.

Benitez and her two sons live in one crowded room in a single room occupancy hotel. At night they blow up the bed and sleep on the floor.

Most of her pay goes for rent.

"The rent is $386, the cable is like $21 and the electric is like $14," she says.

For this family, TV is the only luxury.

But at a time when many are unemployed, Benitez is grateful to have a job.

"We need to survive, you know, be patient," she says, as she wipes her eyes.

She believes things will get better.

She has two very good reasons to keep working toward a more prosperous future.
  • Jaime Holguin

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