In many American communities, families working in low-wage jobs make insufficient income to live locally given the local cost of living.

Recently, in a number of high-cost communities, community organizers and citizens have successfully argued that the prevailing wage offered by the public sector and key businesses should reflect a wage rate required to meet minimum standards of living.

Therefore we have developed a living wage calculator to estimate the cost of living in your community or region. The calculator lists typical expenses, the living wage and typical wages for the selected location.

Recent Articles

Four States Pass Minimum Wage Initiatives

Written by Dr. Amy K. Glasmeier on 11/11/2016

In Tuesday’s election, four states passed ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage. By 2020 minimum wage rates will rise to $12.00/hour in Arizona, Colorado, and Maine. Washington state's minimum wage will increase to $13.50, also by 2020. Initiatives in Arizona and Colorado also require businesses to provide employees with paid sick leave.

More broadly, in 2016 fourteen states raised their minimum wage. These include Alaska, Arkansas, California, Hawaii, New York, Rhode Island and West Virginia. California's wage rate will increase to $15.00/hour by 2022 and applies to the entire state including non-metropolitan areas.

California's law includes differentiated rates by size of firm. An increase in the wage rate goes into effect in 2022 for employers with 26 or more employees . Smaller employers will see a comparable wage rate increase in 2023. The policy can be paused should economic conditions warrant such an action. The rate will be indexed the year following initial...

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New Data: Calculating the Living Wage for U.S. States, Counties and Metro Areas

Written by Carey Nadeau, OpenDataNation Inc. on 08/19/2016

Checked for accuracy on 8/17/2016; Numerical values are consistent with living wage 2015 estimates published on 8/15/2016.

While the minimum wage sets an earnings threshold under which our society is not willing to let families slip, it fails to approximate the basic expenses of families in 2015. Consequently, many working adults must seek public assistance and/or hold multiple jobs in order to afford to feed, clothe, house, and provide medical care for themselves and their families.

Establishing a living wage, an approximate income needed to meet a family’s basic needs, would enable the working poor to achieve financial independence while maintaining housing and food security. When coupled with lowered expenses, for childcare and housing in particular, the living wage might also free up resources for savings, investment, and/or for the purchase of capital assets (e.g. provisions for retirement or home purchases) that build wealth and ensure long-term financial security.
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NEW 2015 Living Wage Data

Written by Dr. Amy K. Glasmeier on 06/20/2016

Rising Income Inequality Makes Living Wages All The More Important

America's middle class families steadily lost share of the nation's income over the 2000-2014 period. http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2016/05/11/americas-shrinking-middle-class-a-close-look-at-changes-within-metropolitan-areas/. The financial crisis saw incomes erode to levels not seen since 1999. Our new data provide a glimpse into where the cost of living and wages paid to specific occupations allow individuals and families to cover their basic costs. Our results clearly demonstrate that the minimum wage long ago stopped serving as a basis for Americans to get by.

While the minimum wage sets an earnings threshold under which our society is not willing to let families slip, it fails to approximate the basic expenses of families in 2015. Consequently, many working adults must seek public assistance and/or hold multiple jobs in order to afford to feed, clothe, house, and provide medical care for themselves and...

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