These days, having a bachelor’s degree doesn’t always translate into a high paying job. Just ask any number of people who have called out companies that require applicants to have a higher education degree but are only willing to pay $12-$14 an hour, or less.
While there are a number of high-profile companies that “recognize the value of experience and hands-on skills instead of just focusing on educational attainment,” that doesn’t mean these jobs are easy to come by—something that TikToker Li (@lilovelialot) expressed in a viral clip that’s accrued over 12,000 views on the popular social media platform.
@lilovelialot rant about low pay lmao wtf is happening #recession #minimumwage #jobinterviews ♬ nintendo wii (mii channel) song – julie on the internet
The TikToker starts her video by explaining that she had just come out of an interview for a “government job” that requires employees to work 8am-5pm on Monday through Friday, but “no nights [and] no weekends.”
The worker explains that she applied for the job since she was tired of working in customer service and retail positions. “I can’t get off of work at f*cking 10pm and then go back at 8am, like, I can’t do it no more,” she says.
Although the set schedule sounded more amenable to the TikToker, she says she wasn’t thrilled with the amount of money that the government job was offering: $14 an hour.
Li says that she thought she could “negotiate” a higher hourly rate, especially since she was “making way more than that” in her previous position.
However, when she arrived for the interview, she discovered that the gig was a “union job,” and adds that she didn’t think “union pay was negotiable.” In addition to the low hourly rate, she also highlights the fact that she would also owe the union dues.
“When you work for the union you have to pay fees and dues, whatever it’s called. I’d be making $14 an hour 40 hours a week, okay that’s $560,” she calculates on camera. “You have to take out taxes, you have to take out the union fees, and I would have to take out insurance or whatever.”
She goes on to share her disbelief about the fact that she earned more money at her previous job in retail than at the government job she just interviewed for.
“How was I making more money at Target 2 years ago?” she asks. “When I quit Target I was making $15.60 being a freaking style expert … That’s just crazy to me.”
She also questions how so many low-paying jobs require 4-year degrees and notes that most people can’t afford to live a life on such a low salary.
“These jobs are like you must have a Bachelor’s degree to qualify for this position and then the pay is literally $14, $15, $16 an hour. I can’t, like, what the f*ck is going on? … And like honestly I thought maybe I could do it, but after thinking and calculating after this interview, it’s not worth it, like I would not be happy going home with $300 a week that’s literally wild, I would not be able to afford to do anything. Vacation, no concerts, like, b*tch a concert ticket is $300. Like you’re out of your goddamn mind. You’re out of your mind.”
The video resonated with many viewers, and they expressed their agreement in the comments.
“I feel you, 15 an hour for an office job here,” someone commiserated.
“All jobs are so messed up now! I was making $21.50 as a barista at Starbucks and now I’m essentially making $25/hr as a teacher with a masters degree,” another person pointed out about their own experience with low pay.
Someone else explained that while the pay for government jobs is quite low, the financial benefits of having a pension means that workers have savings when they retire.
“Most of those jobs have EXCELLENT pensions, so you’ll be set after you work there for like 25 years, but during those 25 yrs [you’ll] be poor af,” they said.
However, the TikToker wasn’t a fan of this mentality, responding, “Yeah that doesn’t cut it for me, tomorrow is never guaranteed.”
One user argued for the benefits of a government job: “I work a govt job-pay is terrible but it’s easy to move up once you’re in, and make more $$. the work/life balance and job security keep me here.”
The Daily Dot has reached out to Li via TikTok comment for further information.