HOUSTON, Texas. The media calls them “deaths of despair.” Where wages are low and opportunities are few, poorer communities see more opioid overdoses and suicides. Yet, is it really as simple as a problem of low wages and few jobs? Do low wages lead to poorer mental health outcomes? Do poorer mental health outcomes increase a person’s risk of suicide, depression, and drug addiction?
According to the New Republic, one way to improve mental health in America would be to raise the minimum wage. But, is it really this simple? According to researchers, low income is linked to poor mental health. But what comes first—poor mental health or low income? Does low income drive poor mental health or does a person with poor mental health face more challenges earning a higher wage? Likely both factors work together to create challenges for both low income people and the mentally ill. Stress from financial difficulty can lead to poorer mental health outcomes, while poor mental health can make it more difficult for people to get hired by higher earning jobs.
Yet, simply raising a person’s wage and standard of living might have an impact on the person’s overall health and wellbeing. Other studies have found that individuals who receive a wage increase experience corresponding mental health improvements that some say is similar to being on antidepressants.
Low income and precarious finances due to low wage, wage theft, or workplace harassment can also lead to poor mental health outcomes. The Atlantic recently reported on increased number of suicides among taxi cab drivers in New York. While companies like Uber and Lyft empower the average New Yorker to work a side gig as a driver, these same companies have resulted in significant losses of income for taxi drivers in New York who invested in an official taxi medallion. Some argue that the desperation born of losing your income and life savings, or struggling financially can be just too much for some workers.
The reality is that many workers are desperate and are working for nothing because there aren’t many jobs available that offer a living wage for low-skilled workers. When workers do find low-skilled jobs, there are more likely to suffer wage theft, or work overtime hours without getting paid. For workers living on the financial brink, not getting paid for overtime work can mean the difference between affording rent, groceries, and medicine.
Moore & Associates are employment lawyers in Houston, Texas who are closely watching how wage theft issues and issues of overtime pay affect the poor. If you feel that your rights have been violated, that you have been denied the overtime you deserve, or that you have suffered wage theft from your employer, you may have the right to seek damages and compensation under the law. Visit us at Moore & Associates today to learn more. We may be able to help you seek the money you may deserve.
Moore & Associates
440 Louisiana Street, Suite 675
Houston, TX 77002