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Minimum Wage Vs a Living Wage

Updated on December 6, 2010

Minimum Wage

Minimum wages are set both nationally and statewide. The minimum wage gives employers a guideline as to the legal minimum amount paid to employees. In 1968 the minimum wage served to keep 86% of workers and their families above the poverty line for a family of four. Today that percentage has dropped to 64%, in effect leaving 36% of wage earners living at or below the poverty line. The current minimum wage amounts are roughly half of what the projected living wage is in any given area. Living wage is defined as the estimated amount of income necessary to live comfortably and put a family into the bracket of middle class.

Living Wage

According to the living wage calculator from the Poverty in America website, the typical two parent, two child family forced to live on a minimum wage income puts them closer to the poverty line than middle class. Living wage for this family in an urban area such as Los Angeles is $34.07. The minimum wage is $8.00 and the poverty wage is $9.83. In a more rural area of California the numbers change to $25.01 for a living wage, $8.00 for the minimum wage and $9.83 for the poverty wage. It certainly proves that a single income family is a thing of the past. According to theUniversal Living Wage Website, 10.1 million people are working at minimum wage jobs and they are staying at these jobs for up to ten years and attempting to raise their families on these wages.

Minimum Wage is Less Than Half the Living Wage

When workers aren't paid enough wages to live decently in the community they live in, they are forced to seek public assistance such as food stamps, medical insurance and subsidized housing. This puts a strain on tax payers who end up paying to support their underpaid neighbors. Raising the minimum wage to twice the national amount would bring workers to just above the poverty line. However, in the more expensive Urban areas, it would still be insufficient to meet the cost of living which can be $18.00 per hour or more.

Living Below the Povery Line

In a country that is known world-wide as the richest nation on earth, it is unacceptable that one in five children live below the poverty line.

There are many organizations that are actively rallying support for a nationwide increase in the minimum wage which would take into account the living wage of the communities the workers live and raise their families in.

Universal Living Wage
Universal Living Wage

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