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What’s the Matter With Iowa? Dark News From Red-State America

March 20, 2017


Paul Street

March 18, 2017-

What is the real cost of being poor? The federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is a cruel joke. If it had kept pace with increases in U.S. labor productivity since the 1970s, it would be $19 an hour today. Assuming full-time, year-round employment, the current minimum wage yields $15,131 per year, well below the federal poverty level for a three-person family ($20,160).

That’s why 29 states have increased their minimum wage beyond the federal level, with bottom hourly standards ranging from $7.70 in Missouri to $10 in Arizona, California, Connecticut and Vermont and $11 in Washington and Massachusetts. In the District of Columbia, the figure is $11.50, and will rise to $15 in 2020. The poverty level is another cruel measure. It is based on an antiquated 1950s formula that multiplies a minimum food budget three times. Like the federal minimum wage level, the poverty level is not adjusted for significant variations in the cost of living across the nation.

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