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.