Do You Earn a ‘Living Wage’? Cut Through the Confusion

Written by Dr. Amy K. Glasmeier on 06/12/2019

On June 5th, the New York Times freelance writer Eric Ravenscraft published a highly readable and accurate accounting of the living wage discussion taking place in America today. Summarizing the history of the minimum wage while pointing out its lack of applicability given today's circumstances, Ravenscraft lays out the history and operation of the living wage calculator residing at MIT. Of note, he highlights the strengths of the tool while pointing out rightly that the calculator does not include such costs as tuition payments, excess medical expenses, funds for savings and occasional vacations, and necessities such as personal telecommunications given we are in the era of the Internet, where landlines are almost non-existent. The mechanics of the tool are simply stated. Additional material adeptly argues for the importance of living wages in a period where the minimum wage has been static since 2009 while the cost of living and the complexity of life necessitates wage rates more in-line with the actual basket of goods everyone needs to get by.

Included in the article is a discussion of a means to compare your current wage rate with prevailing wages and by local occupations. For those wishing to determine whether they are fairly paid, Ravencraft suggests you consult sources such as Glassdoor and Salary.com to benchmark your salary and determine whether your employer's pay scale is keeping up with the prevailing wages in your area. This effort can have a significant payoff, especially if you approach such a negotiation with reasonable expectations supported by information to back up your request. Often people ask me about how to bargain for a better rate of pay based on the tool. A useful summary of the living wage argument is a welcome addition to the continuing discussion about how to get by in America.

Do You Earn a ‘Living Wage’? Cut Through the Confusion (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/05/smarter-living/what-a-living-wage-actually-means.html)

Eric Ravenscraft
Written for the New York Times

June 5, 2019

A version of the original article appears in print on June 8, 2019, on Page B1 of the New York edition with the headline: Do You Earn a ‘Living Wage’?
Cut Through the Confusion