Living Wage FAQ
Q. Why $15.00? Isn’t the minimum wage already fair?
Under no metric is the minimum wage fair. If the minimum wage kept up with productivity, it would be $24.00 an hour. Even with conservative estimates that based wage on simply inflation, that wage would be closer to $11.00-$12.00 an hour.
$15.00 is a number based on inflation, but it also gives people a modest amount of monetary credit for the steady increase in productivity that has occured since the ‘60s.
Q. Isn’t the minimum wage supposed to be a starting point, not something people live off of forever?
The short answer is no. The national minimum wage was passed by congress and signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in 1938. The minimum wage was part of a comprehensive package–child labor laws, overtime, record keeping requirements–to protect workers from exploitation.
FDR explained that the minimum wage was meant to be a “living wage.” He went on to clarify that a living wage meant, “more than a bare subsistence level — I mean the wages of a decent living.” There is no mention of a starting point or being a low enough wage to motivate people to get an education and earn more. FDR made it clear: the minimum wage was always meant to be a living wage.
Q. Isn’t the minimum wage for teenagers who want extra spending money?
As the previous answer notes, the minimum wage is not supposed to be extra spending money for teens who want a job after school (though a living wage does stimulate the economy via spending). The minimum wage, aka a living wage, was meant to support adults who work full and part time so that they had enough money to live comfortably–not just enough to survive.
In fact, according to the Economic Policy Institute, 53% of workers who would benefit from a $15.00 minimum wage are between the ages of 25-54.
Q. Aren’t the only people on minimum wage people with low skilled jobs?
The truth is that in a lot of places around the country, farmworkers, home health aides, airport workers and people who work in trucking are given minimum wage–and worse.
On top of that, it’s our position that any person who works full time in the richest country on the planet should be able to afford the costs of living.
Q. Speaking of housing, isn’t it possible to be successful living under minimum wage if you save enough?
According to MIT’s living wage calculator, which takes into account the cost of food, housing, and transportation, the minimum wage does not sufficiently cover the average American’s basic needs. They state the living wage should be closer to $16.00-$17.00 in order to cover the cost of living expenses.
Q. Isn’t $15.00 a lot of money, though?
Annualized, Florida’s minimum wage of $8.46 is $17,600 a year before taxes. It’s common sense that $17,600 a year is not a lot of money to live off of for any adult.
A $15.00 minimum wage is about $30,000-$31,000 a year, again, before taxes, cost of health insurance, or other related expenses that affect the amount Americans take home. And in fact, $15.00 an hour isn’t enough to rent a modest one bedroom place in most of America. A $15.00 minimum wage is just that–a minimum to secure basic dignity for working Americans.