The answer is depressing
The current federally mandated minimum wage in the United States is $7.25 an hour, but there is a campaign going on called Fight for $15 that’s lobbying to more than double that number. Why? Because $7.25 is, flat out, inhumane. It turns out there isn’t a single state in America where a worker can afford even a one-bedroom apartment by putting in 40 hours a week while earning minimum wage. South Dakota comes the closest to making it work. People there only need to put in 49 hours each week to afford a place to live, but residents of Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, California and Washington D.C. aren’t so lucky. At the current federally mandated minium, workers in those states would need clock more than 90 hours each week to pay for a single bedroom apartment.
There are 30 states with minimum mandates that exceed the national figure — while Wyoming and Georgia manage to have rates that are somehwere even lower than $7.25 —but not by much. The highest state-level amount is $10.50 in nation’s Capitol, where you’ll be able to afford an apartment after 40 hours as long as you don’t plan on eating.
So the question beomes: Is what we have really a “living” wage, or just a survivable one?
Written and Produced by Gabriel Reilich
Graphics by Aaron Thacker