There seems to be alot of talk about pay in the parks and other seasonal jobs being low and it is, but is it that low? These parks and other seasonal jobs seem to be subsidizing the room and board to a great extent. So looking at it from that perspective consider how much it costs for room and board on your own. What do you have to make, to make a comparable wage where you live at as opposed to a park? Yah you got a roommate for better or worse but lets do some math.
40 hrs a week
Subtract out Room and board before taxes
Figure taxes at @ 15%
$457/net pay for 2weeks
$914.60/net pay a month
Room and Board on your own
Rent,utilities, food, and misc.
To make same net pay at home after Room and Board
Add that $1000 to the net park pay a month
$1914.60/net pay a month to achieve park pay
Divide that by (.85) 15% tax bracket
$2252.47/Total pay per month before taxes
Hourly wage to make that Total Pay ($2252.47/4/40)
So if that is clear as mud your net take home pay at $8.50/hr(in a park) is the same as your net take home pay at $14.07/hr(at home). Yah you got the expense of getting there, getting around, doing stuff, and what not. The way I look at it is you wouldn't be visiting a park like these even if you where getting paid twice as much back home. What's your take?
i agree with you, i am from seattle and the costs there are outrageous. plus i wouldn't even get to spend that much time in the parks or wildernesses. if you think about it, from seattle, the nearest wilderness is about a hour away and that is if there is no traffic. plus being a hour away it is overly crowded. but where i was at last summer, i had a trailhead less than a 5 minute walk away and none of the trailheads in the valley i was at were more than a 20 minute bike ride away. so i was able to do something everyday after work. if i was in seattle, i could do something, but not where i would like to do it. so if you take that into account that is worth something right there.
so last summer i got to be somewhere where people were paying a lot of money to get and be there for a minimal cost, and on top of that i was able to save quite a bit of money bc there wasn't anything to really spend money on. win win
and one more thing, is the pay really that different from comparable jobs in the real world, i mean a waiter making $8.50 in a national park is still making the same in seattle.
What gets overlooked in this discussion (ALL the time) is that the only relevant consideration is: you do X amount of work: the employer pays you X. Period. Your outside surroundings are irrelevant, because THE EMPLOYER DOES NOT PROVIDE THOSE SURROUNDINGS. Therefore, the only thing to look at is total compensation, as in wages+benefits such as room and board, minus any amount charged by the employer for that room and board. Your figures approximate the $450/pay period (two weeks) reported by others.
It is silly to talk about how much you might pay for your own support in a regular job in the outside world, because that isn't a COMPENSATION issue. The argument that working in a park and receiving housing and/or meals as part of your overall compensation is somehow something special overlooks the fact that such accommodations are usually fairly minimal. To put it another way, you can't compare on an equal basis, a shared bedroom in a log cabin with a communal bathroom fifty yards away, and a private apartment of your own in an urban setting.
Therefore, in your living-in-a-city scenario, you not only earn more, but you HAVE more--a private place of your own, and a choice of what and where to eat. That's what you get with that higher earning power. Any consideration of how much you enjoy or do not enjoy living in a city, or in a national park, is totally irrelevant--unless you're saying that an employer should pay you less if you're working someplace you enjoy than if you're working someplace you hate, because he's already "compensating" you by "allowing" you to work in that enjoyable place! (I realize, that's the exact argument the park employers use to justify paying only minimum wage.)
Just FYI, to make your comparisons, there are 176 work days in the average month--not 160. But your figures are OK because you are actually comparing wages for four weeks, although you are estimating living expenses in the city over the course of a month (and those same expenses, in the park, for 28 days). Of course, as I said, that's a somewhat apples-and-oranges comparison, as employer-provided housing in a park isn't up to the standard of even a modest private dwelling.
I think the only valid comparison, therefore, is to estimate what type of compensation similar work receives in an urban setting, and on the flip side, how much it would cost to live in a similar fashion in the city (communal housing; cafeteria-style food). If you receive food and housing in the park at a discount from what it costs out in the "real world" (and REMEMBER--not what ANY food and housing costs, but what SUBSTANTIALLY IDENTICAL food and housing costs), then that amounts to a subsidy, and is actually part of your overall compensation.
Compare the housing costs of the two situations as if you were sharing an apartment and food expenses with, say, three other people--a two-bedroom apartment where there are two people to a room, and everybody cooks communally. Using your $550 figure, you would actually only be paying $137.50/mo for rent, and I would imagine that your food would be considerably less than the figure you quoted--let's say, only $175 instead of $250. So you can duplicate the park employee experience--in the city--for $312.50 a month. They're taking out $284 for four weeks at the park, so the monthly cost of living is almost exactly the same in each place.
THEREFORE: they are actually charging you, in the park, the exact same amount that would be the cost of the same type of communal living in the city. Therefore, no subsidy--therefore, they are truly paying you minimum wage.
OK, Reggie, time to say something insulting (and badly spelled). OK, Jon, time to call me "negative", or something else insulting. And both of you, be SURE not to actually address anything I've said, or if you think I'm wrong, to make a cogent (look it up) argument WHY.
I might be making less money but I'am spending less to earn it so that is why I think seasonal work is a viable option to see different parts of the U.S. on a tight budget and be able do it. Yah you might lose money or just break even but from experience, I have found out if you play your cards right you will come out ahead. True the pay is pretty close to minimum wage but what I'am saying is your take home pay is actually equivalent to a much higher hourly wage.
and would you not agree that wages paid by a national park concessionaire are comparable to the wages you might expect to receive doing the same job outside a NP say in a city such as Seattle or cheyenne?
Those wages are minimum wage for the state in question, so they will never be more, sometimes the same, and usually less, for that comparable job in an urban setting. Also, many of those minimum-wage jobs in the NPs would command a somewhat higher wage in a more competitive environment. So although many such jobs would indeed pay relatively low wages in either location, the monopoly of the NP concessionaires allows them to keep wages at an absolute minimum level.
I'm not discounting the non-monetary value of living and working in the parks. But my point--missed by all, so I'll say it again--is that that should not be a factor in the EMPLOYER'S calculation of what constitutes fair compensation, because the aesthetic qualities of the experience are not provided by the employer (they are provided by the taxpayer).
so where are all these higher paying service industry jobs in the urban setting. they aren't here now and they weren't here when the economy was good. the minimum wage jobs were and always will be minimum wage. maybe someone would get a raise because of the length of service. but the point is the pay is basically the same at all locations, whether it be in the city or national parks. now if people stopped taking the jobs at national parks, maybe wages would go up to attract workers, but as far as i know nobody is forced to take a job but they still do. if things are so unfair, why do national park concessionaires really have no problem finding the workers they need.
also you are not forced to take room and board, but it is offered because many times there are no other affordable options, so while technically you couldn't consider it part of the compensation package, it is an affordable option used to attract workers. also, it is used by some when they are considering employment with different companies, how many times have you seen in these forums people asking about the different housing options at different places.
you also point out "that that should not be a factor in the EMPLOYER'S calculation of what constitutes fair compensation, because the aesthetic qualities of the experience are not provided by the employer (they are provided by the taxpayer)." TRUE, but don't national park concessionaires bid competitively on getting the concession and contributing financially to the nps system and are offering employment opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable. they (the concessionaires) offer a service to the general public at a price that the US government, with their rules and bureaucracy would not be able to match. so while the parks themselves belong to the US taxpayers, the concessionaires make considerable contributions for the facilities they use and services they provide. and what you call monopoly, well they are only charging what the market will bear, if people stopped the demand for their services, then they would be forced to lower their prices. its the free market system at its best.
but what you are contending is that the cost are the same to an employee not matter where they are working. those figures you provided are very unrealistic, but if you can, show me were i can realistically find an apartment to share for less then $150 a month. right now in seattle i share a home with 3 other people and i pay just for rent $400 a month, an other lets say conservatively $50 for utilities, an other $150 (and going up as gas prices rise) for commuting, and another conservative $150 for food. i am not even going to figure in entertainment costs as we know they are a lot higher in a urban area as opposed to a national park. so those totals come to a conservative $750, very cheap for seattle standards. so that comes out to $25 a day. now i may be wrong, but so far the highest i have seen this year being charge for R&B is $11 a day. and say what you will about having choices when it comes to living situations in the "real world" but there are always compromise's that have to be made when it comes to having roommates. sure you can chose not to live with roommates, but then the cost rise considerably. also, when we take jobs in the national parks, a majority go into the situation with our eyes open. we know its not going to be the most ideal living situation. but you also have the option not to take a job with a national park concessionaire.
also, the temp employees and volunteers that take seasonal positions with the nps are often times in the same situation are their counterparts in the private sector. last summer, i witnessed 3 people to a bedroom, actually more then with the resort employees. then you had the fire crew that were in tents all summer, so it is not just the private concessionaire, but also the national park service.
but kevin we all know how you feel, so i would recommend to you is not take a job in a national park. you seem not to be able to get along with others, but i may be wrong. anyway good luck and have a nice day.
That was my basic point, that you are overvaluing the housing that you receive in the NPs as part of your employment. The amount you pay for it is just about equal to what you would pay for such housing (communal, shared) in an urban environment. So there's neither an advantage or a disadvantage re the housing part of the equation. And since a lot of people feel--erroneously--that they're getting some kind of bargain with the housing, that makes them feel more willing to accept minimum wage.
and kevin this is where i will call you negative. why do you come on here and try and start trouble. i think what you are looking for is a academic political debating forum. most people here get along but you love to start controversy at every turn. i feel bad that you had a bad experience with seasonal work, and have even learned a bit from you. i have seen you give people good advice, but because you have had a bad experiences with seasonal work, you are having a hard time with anyone else who has a different opinion and has had positive experiences with these employers that offer employment opportunities. over the past year, reading the advice that reggie has contributed has really given me some insight. but you seem bent on disqualifying anyone who doesn't have the same opinion as you and tries to convey anything good that has happened to them while working seasonal jobs. its good to give advice, but to try and tear apart anyone else's opinion is just small. all anyone is doing is trying to offer newcomers to seasonal work advice that has been beneficial to them. with your negative experiences, you could have something positive to contribute, but you seem to think the rest of us are stupid and are feeding everyone disinformation. anyway grow up and let people have there opinions. there are plenty of other forums elsewhere on the web that love to debate, go start your arguements there.
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