Press Release: Pay Up 2015
For Immediate Release
October 13, 2015
Contact: Kathy Mulady
Pay Up! $15 is Not a Living Wage in Most of the Country
On average, a minimum wage worker would have to put in 93 hours a week to make ends meet
Throughout the nation the idea of a $15 minimum wage is rightfully gaining momentum. However, a new report by the Alliance for a Just Society released today, shows that $15 is really a modest proposal, and is not even a living wage in most states.
Nationally, the living wage for a single adult ranges from $14.26 in Arkansas to $21.44 in Hawaii.
At $7.25 an hour, the current federal minimum wage, workers would have to put in up to 110 hours a week (as is the case in Hawaii) to cover the basic costs of living for just one person.
A full-time job should mean stability, not struggle. The report, “Pay Up! Long Hours and Low Pay Leave Workers at a Loss” reveals that the minimum wage in many states is half the pay a single adult needs to cover basics like housing, food, utilities, and transportation.
The numbers are more disturbing when a worker is also supporting children – even with two parents working full time.
“A wage that keeps families trapped in poverty and despair, no matter how hard or how many hours they work, is a national crisis,” said Jill Reese, associate director of the Alliance for a Just Society.
“We know that it’s not unheard of in our country that someone is working full time and is still homeless – this is unacceptable,” Reese said.
The study calculates a living wage for a single adult in all 50 states, then reports the stunning number of hours a minimum wage employee must work in each state, and nationally, to make a living.
“The answer to low wages is not expecting people to work a ridiculous number of hours, or to make severe cutbacks in basic necessities,” said Allyson Fredericksen, report author and policy analyst at the Alliance for a Just Society.
“Instead, the answer is to pay workers enough to ensure that full-time employment provides some measure of financial stability. Our research shows that’s twice the current minimum wage in many states,” said Fredericksen.
In Washington D.C. workers paid minimum wage have to work 83 hours a week to make ends meet for one person. In New York it’s 91 hours a week, and in Virginia it’s 103 hours.
Even in states with a relatively high minimum wage, such as California at $9 an hour, workers there would still have to clock 86 hours a week to equal a living wage.
“Pay Up!” is part of The Job Gap Economic Prosperity Series research by the Alliance for a Just Society. The Alliance has produced the reports since 1999.
Alliance for a Just Society is a national policy, research, and organizing network that focuses on health, racial, and economic justice.