The living wage for a single adult is $18.70 per hour. This reflects what is needed to meet basic needs and maintain some ability to deal with emergencies and plan ahead. The living wage for a single adult with two children is $35.51 per hour.

Virginia’s minimum wage of $7.25 does not allow working families to make ends meet. The state’s minimum wage provides less than 40 percent of a living wage for a single adult and only one-fifth of the living wage for a single adult with two children.


VA Table

VA State Fact Sheet (pdf)


MELVIN WHITFIELD  |  richmond, virginia

“I work hard every day to make sure my son doesn’t ever know that we live in poverty.”

I am a 39-year-old father who has lived in Richmond, Virginia most of my life. I am also an army veteran and now work for $9.68 an hour in environmental services for a hospital, a service that is the first line of defense against hospital-acquired infections.

My son, my pregnant fiancée, and I, are living in an efficiency apartment and trying to make ends meet on my salary.

I am devoted to my family and want to make sure they are provided for. Even though I have a good education and a strong work history, I had to take a low-paying job because I couldn’t find higher paying work that was convenient to get to by bus. I don’t have a car.

Although I am working a custodial job, my real passion
is teaching.

Education is my calling and I’m working on finishing my degree so I can be a teacher. I’m not making any excuses. I know I have to work hard to get ahead and I will do whatever I have to do to take care of my family.

I know all too well that I don’t make a living wage. I wish I could afford to save for emergencies and move into an apartment with more bedrooms.

It’s tough to get ahead when there’s always something that comes up and I don’t have money saved to afford the extra expenses. I’d like to move my family into a home with more bedrooms and get a car so I can find higher paying work, but there’s no way to save when I’m struggling to get by now.

Thankfully, I have veterans’ benefits and I’m able to get health care. I would be unable to afford the health insurance premiums on my salary. Since Virginia hasn’t expanded Medicaid, I can’t access that help under the federal Affordable Care Act.

As a veteran, I understand sacrifice. I work hard every day to make sure my son doesn’t ever know that we live
in poverty.

It’s hard, but my son doesn’t know that. We laugh and love each other as a family, but not having enough money wears on you and puts stress on relationships.

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