Building an Economy that Works for Everyone

What wage do Washingtonians need to earn to meet basic costs?

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There’s a lot of talk about the minimum wage these days. But how much do Washingtonians actually need to earn in order to meet basic costs — and what are basic costs for a single-parent family (as 29% of children in WA are) versus a two-parent/two kid family?

Learn the answers to these questions and more on EOI’s Minimum Wage vs. Cost of Living Calculator. By comparing the 2014 minimum wage  ($9.32) with cost of living data for each county, the calculator shows the difference between the minimum wage and the cost of living for various family types across the state.

For example, a family with two adults earning minimum wage in Spokane County earns $18.64 per hour. But in order to meet basic costs, this family would need to earn an additional $2.98 per hour if they had one infant — and $7.55 more per hour if they had  both a preschooler and an older child in school.

Compare this with a two-adult family in Snohomish County- to meet basic costs with one infant, the family falls short $11.05 per hour below the cost of living. If they have a preschooler and older child, they are short by a whopping $15.89 per hour.

Spoiler alert: there is no county in Washington where the minimum wage is sufficient to cover the basic cost of living for a family with children, for either single parent-households or two-parent households.

Thanks to the new $15 minimum wage bill signed by Mayor Ed Murray, the City of Seattle will begin a seven-year phase-in for the new $15 minimum wage next year. But as the Economic Opportunity Institute’s Executive Director John Burbank says in his column this month, it’s time for Washington state to be a leader in supporting all Washington workers, not just those in Seattle.

Use the Minimum Wage vs. Cost of Living Calculator for your county — and see why Washington needs a raise.

Family self-sufficiency budget numbers are based on 2011 Self Sufficiency Standard Report for Washington State provided by the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County. Thanks WDC!

By Graduate Intern Sam Hatzenbeler, MPHc

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