Would $7.25 an hour cover living costs in your neighborhood?
Image via Afta Putta Gunawan/Pexels.
The federal minimum wage as of spring 2018 is $7.25 an hour.
That means if you work 40 hours a week at a minimum wage job, you’ll make $290 a week — before taxes. That comes out to $15,080 a year — again, before taxes. On that salary, a single person would be expected to pay their share of taxes, get health insurance, and pay for shelter, food, and transportation.
In short, the minimum wage is low. Especially when you consider that the U.S. does not provide health insurance and requires every citizen and resident pay taxes. To put that in perspective, the lowest minimum wage in Canada is $10.96 an hour — and in some Canadian provinces, it’s as much as $15 an hour.
But there’s some good news for minimum wage earners in 2018.
So far this year, 18 states have taken matters into their own hands and raised their minimum wage. Most of these minimum wage hikes are thanks to ballot initiatives that passed in 2017 and took effect at the beginning of this year. Washington enacted a 50-cent minimum wage increase to $11.50 an hour, and Maine saw an entire $1 increase, bringing its minimum wage to $10 an hour. California is now at $11 an hour (a 50-cent increase), and New York is at $10.40 an hour (a 70-cent hike).
One of the reasons higher minimum wages have had traction within the last few years is that minimum wage increases get a lot of support from both parties. While there isn’t bipartisan support for a steep increase – to $15 an hour – there’s reliable support among the American public for more conservative hikes.
And with 18 states raising their minimum wages so far this year alone, the U.S. is one step closer to paying a living wage across the country.