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My first year of SS contributions
Old 09-02-2015, 06:03 AM   #1
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My first year of SS contributions

What was the job that earned your very first contributions to Social Security and Medicare?

We've had a thread on first jobs, which mostly identified neighborhood entrepreneurs working for cash. I found another that asked posters to describe their first "real" (self-supporting) job.

I just reviewed my annual Social Security statement. It's always good to see a reminder that the first leg of the retirement income stool is still ready and waiting.

As instructed, I reviewed my earnings record. It's a bit daunting, even a little depressing, to be reminded that I've been working for The Man for almost 40 years.

My first paycheck job was in 1976, when I earned $2500 frying chicken and selling sodas at an amusement park. It was full time in the summer and weekends in the spring and fall. I started at $1.65 an hour, which was substantially less than the $2.30 minimum wage. (Amusement parks took full advantage of a seasonal worker loophole.)

I remember lots of 10 hour shifts, plus the opportunity to sign up for extra hours at catering events or to "work a double" from 8am to midnight if you wanted to substitute for an absent co-worker. Fortunately, they paid time-and-a-half for overtime. I worked a bunch of it to get to $2500.

No doubt a continuous prosperity, though spendthrift, is preferable to an economy thriftily moral, though lean. Nevertheless, that prosperity would seem more soundly shored if, by a saving grace, more of us had the grace to save.

Life Magazine editorial, 1956
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Old 09-02-2015, 06:34 AM   #2
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I worked for Federal Compress and Warehouse company in 1973. We unloaded bales of cotton, sampled them, tagged them, stored them and inventoried them. I earned $63 dollars as I was part time after school and started late in the year.

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Old 09-02-2015, 06:36 AM   #3
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Janitor at a shopping mall. My SS record shows $849 earnings in 1972. Was 14 years old.
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Old 09-02-2015, 06:41 AM   #4
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My first job was as a dishwasher at a local restaurant in 1976 a year before I graduated high school, eventually made my way to cook. I made $1,220 that year.

I applied at the local shoe company, Earth Shoes, and did not get the job. It was a good thing, as most shoe companies went out of the country.

I was making $2.30 per hour which was minimum wage. As a 16 year old kid, I had the keys to the restaurant, and opened the place in the AM during the summer all by myself. I checked in the orders and even had people working for me.

There were only two 'chef's', the real one and me. Steaks, baked stuffed lobster, broiled shrimp, fried seafood, etc. were all on the menu.

After a few months, I asked for a raise and received 3.00 per hour.
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Old 09-02-2015, 08:25 AM   #5
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Summer job in 1966 with the telephone company. I did "disconnects." In those days you didn't own your phones, just rented them. When someone moved (or failed to pay their bill), it generated an order. I picked up a thick sheaf of orders in the morning and spent the day getting phones.

There was a two-part process to each one: I would go to the house or apartment and pick up all the physical instruments. Then I had to climb the nearest pole and disconnect the wires for that connection, then go to the nearest crossbox and disconnect the same pair of wires from the cable to the next cable. That way there was no possibility of the people getting a stolen phone and hooking it up again. Theoretically no chance they would be able to figure out which pair of wires were involved at both locations.

A most interesting summer, with lots of stories i could tell. SS earnings were $870 and I considered myself very well paid, although it wasn't an easy job (it gets mighty hot up on those utility poles).
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Old 09-02-2015, 08:26 AM   #6
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You made me look My record shows $163 in 1965 when I started working in a movie theater. However, I guess my paper route earnings, years before that, never got reported. I enjoyed the theater job more than any subsequent job.
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Old 09-02-2015, 08:31 AM   #7
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1970 for me. Made $352 when I was 16 and worked as a camp counselor. My work during high school and college years got me most of the credit I need for SS and Medicare eligibility. Still can't get over that, but thankful nonetheless.
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Old 09-02-2015, 08:36 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Senator View Post
My first job was as a dishwasher at a local restaurant ...
My first job too. Ah, Connie's Fine Food, right off the Ohio turnpike.

Consulting my SS statement, I made $269 in 1978. And I made a lot more the next year - $2,714!!!
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Old 09-02-2015, 08:53 AM   #9
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1976 - Long John Silvers, $2074 @ 2.10 an hour
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Old 09-02-2015, 09:09 AM   #10
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I made $1747 in 1977 at a fried chicken place. It was my first job after turning 16. I worked full time for $2.30/hr in the summer. Later, I worked various hours (weekends, holidays) throughout the rest of high school. I did everything at some point, but mainly prep, frying chicken, and filling orders. Once a week, it was my job to clean out the grease trap. Mike Rowe would have been proud.
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Old 09-02-2015, 09:18 AM   #11
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1976 - my brother and I built and ran a sawmill. I made ~$5K that year. Big money, I didn't have an hourly rate. Just received money when a load of lumber or ties were delivered and sold. There were some really tough times back then, no savings and no pay for a month when there were issues. Got pretty hungry.
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Old 09-02-2015, 09:29 AM   #12
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OK, I may have a contender for the most soul-crushingly boring first job:

Part time job in high school, 1978: Industrial Inventory - basically counting bolts mass produced in the factory out front. One day I counted 750,000 of them. Whether I retained my sanity while doing so is open to debate, but that few months earned me a big $1114 - the first entry on my SS earnings list.
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Old 09-02-2015, 09:29 AM   #13
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Since you are asking for SS wages, that leaves out the slave labor that I had to endure starting at 5 YO to my dad...

First was when I was 14 and did inventory for a department store... anybody remember Woolco? Made a whole $38....

The next year my wages were $20... and then $15.... not a great trend for earnings......

But, when I was 16 dad actually starting paying a small amount of money, so I did 'earn' more that year....
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Old 09-02-2015, 09:36 AM   #14
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High school, 1966, summer Day camp counselor for YMCA. $20 per week. It was really a fun job.
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Old 09-02-2015, 11:34 AM   #15
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1979, 15 years old, started part time in spring, went to full time during summer and part-time again once school back in session into fall. Winter was almost no work. Worked at a family friend's patio cover/window awning/screen room/screen window and door shop, so it was seasonal demand. I worked in the back shop, building the window and door screens mostly, occasionally the big screen room panels. I did not do the outside installation work. I made $1883 that year, riding my bicycle to work since I couldn't drive yet! Memory is fading but I think my salary was $2.90/hr, which I think was min wage at the time.

Although the work was physical and was light production type environment, I liked it and worked there for next four years, FT during summer and PT during school.
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Old 09-02-2015, 11:53 AM   #16
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1975, age 15 was 1st Social Security job. Radio Shack after school and weekends. $1.65 / hour. $2,740 that 1st year..... Worked there till age 18 and went to work in the Oil Patch as I figured out I did not have the personality for dealing with the public.
Still in the oilfield 40 years later....
Forgot - we also got commission on sales...
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Old 09-02-2015, 11:55 AM   #17
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1959 - made $18 working part time for a small office one summer ($0.50/hr ?)

1961 - made $2062 for 1/2 year as a draftsman for a machine tool builder.
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Old 09-02-2015, 12:19 PM   #18
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In 1982 I worked as a day camp counselor that summer between my first and second years of college. But just before that, I worked in a kitchen at the clubhouse for a golf course which also had a catering hall for special events. I lasted there for 10 days but earned nearly as much in those 10 days as I did at the day camp (base salary, excluding tips).
Retired in late 2008 at age 45. Cashed in company stock, bought a lot of shares in a big bond fund and am living nicely off its dividends. IRA, SS, and a pension await me at age 60 and later. No kids, no debts.

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Old 09-02-2015, 12:21 PM   #19
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I delivered phone books. Remember when the phone company distributed them and you got ne for each phone? I was 16 and I'm not sure why they took SS out of it- form what I know now I was a contract worker. Here's your pile of X phone books, deliver them within a week, you use your own car, we'll pay you $Y after we do some spot checks to verify you delivered them. The contract price was under $100 but the SS portion of that is in my record.
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Old 09-02-2015, 12:24 PM   #20
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1973 – I was something like a draftsman apprentice. Back then, the idea of a company pension of something like $200/month if I worked ten years sounded pretty good… 42 years later, it’s beer and pizza money…

I do remember my first pay stub, and going to payroll to ask about the taxes. The nice little old lady (probably younger than I am now…) explained the taxes, and in particular I remember some brochure on SS. I know I ran the numbers, which put me on a life-long “soapbox” about how lousy the SS system was.

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