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What Does A Living Minimum Wage Look Like? [Infographic]

Minimum & Living Wage Infographic

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In 2016, 21 States At The Federal Minimum Wage

It’s 2016, and 21 states continue to use the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour:

  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

But is that enough to live on? According to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, it’s not. Working full-time, 2,080 hours per year at the federal minimum wage, doesn’t cut it. At minimum wage, a full-time workers earns just $15,000 per year. $15,000, the researchers say, isn’t enough to live on, not when you add up the cost of food, health insurance, housing, transportation, clothing and other basic necessities in specific geographic regions.

Those are factors the federal government doesn’t use to figure out what the minimum wage should be. In fact, no one really knows how the government decides on a minimum wage, says WiseGEEK. There’s no specific formula, and any calculations that do take place usually don’t even take inflation into account. Setting a new minimum wage, which hasn’t happened since 2009, is a battle between legislators and lobbyists, one often divorced from the concerns of real working families. Maybe that’s why the current minimum wage is actually less, in terms of what you can buy, than it was in 1968.

How Much Should A Living Annual Wage Be?

To live, and not just scrape by, a full-time minimum wage worker in those 21 states should be making:

  • Alabama – $21,149
  • Georgia – $22,227
  • Idaho – $19,953
  • Indiana – $20,257
  • Iowa – $20,659
  • Kansas – $20,453
  • Kentucky – $20,202
  • Louisiana – $21,786
  • Mississippi – $20,704
  • New Hampshire – $23,765
  • North Carolina – $21,907
  • North Dakota – $20,354
  • Oklahoma – $19,730
  • Pennsylvania – $21,641
  • South Carolina – $21,819
  • Tennessee – $21,350
  • Texas – $21,214
  • Utah – $21,405
  • Virginia – $25,711
  • Wisconsin – $21,077
  • Wyoming – $20,653

Those are true living wages, as calculated by MIT Professor of Economic Geography and Regional Planning Amy Glasmeier. Obviously, every one of those numbers is substantially higher than $15,000.

How Much Should Minimum Wage Workers Make?

We’ve taken those annual living wages, and used them to calculate how much the hourly minimum wage should be in each state, using 2,080 hours as full-time:

  • Alabama – $10.17 per hour
  • Georgia – $10.69 per hour
  • Idaho – $9.59
  • Indiana – $9.74
  • Iowa – $9.93
  • Kansas – $9.83
  • Kentucky – $9.71
  • Louisiana – $10.47
  • Mississippi – $9.95
  • New Hampshire – $11.43
  • North Carolina – $10.53
  • North Dakota – $9.79
  • Oklahoma – $9.49
  • Pennsylvania – $10.40
  • South Carolina – $10.49
  • Tennessee – $10.26
  • Texas – $10.20
  • Utah – $10.29
  • Virginia – $12.36
  • Wisconsin – $10.13
  • Wyoming – $9.93

It’s time to make the minimum wage a living wage, for all workers regardless of where they live.

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