Wednesday, February 03, 2021

$15 An Hour Is Not A Living Wage

In July 2009, the US federal minimum wage was $7.25 per hour.
In February 2021, the US federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. 
It's a good thing the price of rent, utilities, food, clothing, transit, gas, etc., has not gone up in the past 12 years.

Democrats propose raising the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour by 2025. While that is something – it beats the Republicans' plan to bring back slavery – but $15.00 per hour won't be a living wage in 2025, because it's not a living wage now.

It's time to learn what President Roosevelt said on June 16, 1933, that a minimum wage should provide every worker with a dignified standard of living
In my Inaugural, I laid down the simple proposition that nobody is going to starve in this country. It seems to me to be equally plain that no business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country.

By "business", I mean the whole of commerce, as well as the whole of industry.

By "workers", I mean all workers, the white-collar class, as well as the men in overalls.

And by "living wages", I mean more than a bare subsistence level – I mean the wages of decent living.
A minimum wage was instituted in the US in 1938. (Why did it take five additional years? Roosevelt's National Industrial Recovery Act established a national minimum wage in 1933, but the Supreme Court ruled the act unconstitutional. After Roosevelt was re-elected in 1936, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of minimum wage legislation in Washington state and in 1938, the minimum wage was re-established pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act.)

A person working a 40-hour week at $15 per hour will earn $31,200 per year, or $2,600 per month, before taxes. 

As a single filer, that person will owe $987.50, plus 12% of the amount over $9,875, in federal taxes. That's $987.50 plus $2,559 ($31,200 minus $9,875 times .12) or $3,546.50. That drops the take-home pay to $27,653.50. But there is also state income taxes.

I used a tax calculator at and plugged in a few cities to see what the take-home pay would be on an annual salary of $31,200 (of course, the cost of living varies throughout the country):
Fort Myers, Florida:   $26,755
Fort Worth, Texas:     $26,755
Homer, Alaska:         $26,755
Oakland, California:   $26,209
Santa Fe, New Mexico:  $26,113
Burlington, Vermont:   $26,058
Trinidad, Colorado:    $25,884
Butte, Montana:        $25,787
Chicago, Illinois      $25,325
New York, New York:    $24,812
Ashland, Oregon:       $24,679
The Department of Housing and Urban Development considers anyone paying more than 30% of her income for rent and utilities to be "cost-burdened". A full-time worker, earning minimum wage, would be "cost-burdened" if she spent more than $650 per month on rent and utilities. ($26,000 annual salary divided by 12 months ($2,166.67 per month) times 0.3 = $650.)

According to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, a worker would have to earn roughly $20.00 per hour to afford a one-bedroom apartment at the national average fair market rate. 

The Center for Economic and Policy Research calculated that if the federal minimum wage had increased at the same rate as productivity since 1968, it now would be over $24.00.

If any member of Congress is against immediately raising the federal minimum wage to $20 per hour should state what he or she believes the minimum wage should be – and then be forced to live for an entire year on that salary. We'll spot each of them a modest amount of clothes and towels and stuff, and some basic furniture. Now find an apartment, make a budget, and pull up those fucking bootstraps.

FOUND: Vote Fraud!

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