Minimum Wages Go From Not Nearly Enough To Not Quite Enough

Rolling out their tax plan, Republicans talked “raises raises raises.” Well, here you go America. Some of you may see increased pay. But it’s too little, too late.

According to a report by the National Employment Law Project, 18 states and 19 cities are increasing their minimum wage this year. But even the biggest wage hikes fall well below a livable wage. The NELP estimates that by 2024, given the rising cost of living, citizens will need at least $15 per hour to survive. That is over twice the current federal minimum of $7.25. True, some cities, like Seattle, already hit the magic $15. But Washington is too rainy and we can’t all go work for Amazon or Microsoft. Most of the country still has to get really good at dog walking to afford food.

The following states increased their minimum wage: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Washington, D.C., Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

D.C. leads the pack with the least offensive base pay: $13.25, up from $12.50 last year. Congrats for doing almost the right thing, D.C.

A few states clearly did it solely for laughs. Missouri, for example, now offers a whopping $7.85 per hour, up from their $7.70 minimum in 2017. That’s seriously just a “fuck you” to poor people. Or New Jersey, which went from an $8.44 minimum to $8.60. Likely because some legislative aide wanted a rounder number, not because you can suddenly afford healthcare with those extra 16 cents.

Of course, this doesn’t included tipped jobs, where the minimum wage is so low you might as well get paid in Monopoly money. Restaurant servers in New Jersey or Pennsylvania get $2.13 per hour plus whatever amount of tip drunk customers leave behind. America: where your livelihood depends on the creep at table four.

Photo courtesy of Michael Browning, via Unsplash

Granted, several states have pledged to increase their minimum wage to $15 over the next few years. New Jersey Governor-Elect Phil Murphy called raising it “high on the priority list.” California has pledged to hit $15 by 2023 and Washington, D.C. by 2020. In the meantime, on average, workers must earn at least $21.21 per hour to afford a two-bedroom rental home. In other words, no minimum wage worker in the country can afford it.

Finally, a shout out to the following states for sticking with what they know: keeping their citizenry in crushing poverty by maintaining their federally mandated (non)livable wage of $7.25/hour:

Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.