North Texas Daily

Inflation increases due to COVID-19, causing financial stress for some student workers

Inflation increases due to COVID-19, causing financial stress for some student workers

Inflation increases due to COVID-19, causing financial stress for some student workers
January 28
14:00 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused rising inflation across multiple markets as supply-chain issues and labor shortages continue, according to CNN

The 2022 Apartment List National Rent Report found rent prices rising a record-setting 17.8 percent nationally during 2021. This month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that food prices have increased by an average of 3.6 percent from 2020 to 2021. 

Some student workers are feeling the financial impact of said inflation. The minimum wage at the University of North Texas is $7.25 per hour, consistent with the state’s minimum wage rate.

Media arts junior Ian Adair said he has not been able to get approved for a raise and believes he deserves a higher wage. 

“I more or less have the responsibilities of an assistant manager, but administration makes it practically impossible to get a raise,” Adair said. “With the inflation rate of the last year I’ve had to look for a second job to help pay my bills even with financial aid support.”

Weekly earnings for part-time employees between the ages of 16 and 24 rose less than one percent between the second quarter of 2020 and the second quarter of 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

At the State of The University address in September 2021, UNT President Neal Smatresk announced that student wages would be analyzed, but changes for part-time staff have yet to be seen. According to the address, full-time university employees who have worked for UNT for at least 90 days will be given a minimum $12 wage by March 1.

Smatresk did not respond to the North Texas Daily’s request for comment. 

While some on-campus employees are eligible for small pay raises at the end of each semester, it is often not enough, said new media art senior Jarrett Crepeau. Crepeau earned a cumulative $1.25 per hour raise over his three years working on campus. 

I think for the amount of work that students put in when they work on campus, they definitely deserve to get paid more, especially because for a lot of people it’s their only source of income,” Crepeau said. “I’m in a much better position than a lot of people were when COVID hit, but it’s been a very stressful time.”

The Student Government Association has previously made campaign promises regarding raising the minimum wage. Former SGA President Yolian Ogbu sought to raise the minimum wage on campus to $15 an hour, but this fell through due to SGA absences in the 2019-2020 school year.

Current SGA Vice President David Muñoz-Sarabia said students’ wages are something the organization is still working on and nothing is definitive. 

That’s something that’s definitely on our radar and we definitely want to improve, but it becomes harder because where is the money gonna come from?” Muñoz-Sarabia said. “We wanna make sure that we’re not sacrificing certain resources to get there.”

Muñoz-Sarabia said he and SGA President Devon Skinner are partnering with UNT’s Chief Financial Officer Clayton Gibson to look into student wages. 

We’re still having conversations about if that’s something we can do,” Muñoz-Sarabia said. “Everything at the moment is just conversation since currently, COVID is still a big topic of discussion and currently that’s our priority right now.”

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

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Jillian Nachtigal

Jillian Nachtigal

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