This seems to merit further discussion. First off, let me clarify a point. I'm not talking about a situation in which the employee is paid a sub standard wage.
Here in my area the typical wage for a skilled shop hand is between $15 and $25 an hour. So if we hit the average, we are looking at $20. That works out to $41,600 per year, not including whatever benefits the employee gets. But the take home pay at that level will be more like $32-$35,000 which does not look nearly as good. The guy is going home with around $2,500-$2,900 a month.
The median price for a home here is around $250,000. That means that they guy will have at least a $1,500 per month mortgage payment. If he also has a $400 per month auto payment, assuming that he's taking home $2,900, he's already down to $1,000. The average family spends at least $200 per week on food. That leaves him with $200. Out of that he has to buy gas, food, clothing, insurance and a million other things he and his family need. And every one of those things is steadily rising in cost.
At the same time, jobs are scarce and the competition for them is fierce. A lot of shops have folded but the ones still in operation are working double time to get work. That means low bidding which does not facilitate paying higher wages. And shop owners are faced with the same rising costs for materials, supplies and overhead. Fees are rising too as local governments try to keep something in their coffers.
The bottom line is that everyone is having to tighten their belts and often a second job (if a guy is lucky enough to find one) may be necessary. I even know shop owners who are moonlighting just to keep their doors open.