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

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

Written by Carey Nadeau, OpenDataNation Inc. on 06/20/2016

Checked for accuracy on 6/8/2016; Numerical values are consistent with living wage 2015 estimates published on 6/7/2016.

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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Another Dallas Agency Uses MIT Living Wage Tool

Written by Dr. Amy K. Glasmeier and Ms. Ronette Chanel Seeney on 04/26/2016

November 2015 the Dallas City Council approved a wage increase to $10.37 an hour for all contractors and subcontractors hired by the city. This includes groundkeepers, janitors, and trash collectors. Wages of construction contractors are negotiated separately. To identify a living wage, the City Council used the MIT living wage calculator. The campaign for a living wage began in 2010 when Dallas sanitation workers called for a wage increase. The call came amid a period of budget challenges.

Initial plans had the living wage as part of the city’s bid process. Companies would gain more points with proposals that included a living wage. Needing more information, the measure was initially vetoed, but was eventually passed on a 14-1 vote. All bids are now required to include a living wage of $10.37 per hour. Councilors approved the change stating that, “It was the right thing to do.” The living wage is effective immediately and will be included in contract renewals and all ne...

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