$10.20 Minimum Wage Needed To Live Even In The Cheapest Place in America

July 22, 2013  |  


For someone living with minimum wage in New York City, named the most expensive city in the U.S., life might be unbearable. However, even if you trekked over to South Dakota, the state with the lowest cost of living, minimum wage still would not be able to sustain your needs, Huffington Post reports.

A childless resident of South Dakota would need to make $10.20 an hour, $3 more than the current minimum wage of $7.25, to have financial security, according to Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW). For those who do have one child, his or her wage would need to be $17.50 to “achieve basic economic security,” adds HuffPo.

“In a place with the lowest cost of living, the minimum wage falls far short,” Sean McMahon, acting director of WOW, told HuffPo, “In most places in America we need either multiple earners or multiple minimum wage to even achieve any type of economic security.”

Dawn Homberg, a 43-year-old single mother who makes $10.50 describes her economic situation in Hanson County, South Dakota as “tight.” Having no disposable income, Holmberg told HuffPo that she refrains from going out and doing anything special. With expenses including rent, utilities, child care, and groceries, she only has money to provide for basic needs.

“We don’t do anything, we stay home,” Holmberg told HuffPo. “It is hard. We spend a lot of time at the park or the lake, something that doesn’t really cost anything to do.”

On a national scale, outside of South Dakota, WOW researchers discovered that a minimum wage of $14.17 per hour is necessary to establish a sustainable life in America. Montgomery County, Maryland has the highest cost of living and it would take a resident a minimum wage of $23.65, the salary of an aircraft mechanic, to make a decent living.

As MN has reported before, Washington D.C., which neighbors Montgomery County, passed a bill that would require large retailers to pay their employees a minimum of $12.50 an hour. Appalled at the bill, Walmart provided Mayor Vincent Gray with an ultimatum: don’t sign the bill or we will rescind our plans of having three stores in your city.

President Obama attempted to take a stab at increasing the minimum wage to $9 an hour, but of course, Republicans could not not bear to back such a threat to big businesses.

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