“A vast majority of the country doesn’t make a living wage”

The following sparked an interesting debate on Twitter, she’s right, she’s wrong. The facts used are the MIT living wage calculator.

I think it’s wrong that (1) a vast majority of the country doesn’t make a living wage, I think it’s wrong that (2) you can work one hundred hours and not feed your kids. I think it’s wrong that (3) corporations like Walmart and Amazon can get paid by the government, essentially experience a wealth transfer from the public, for (4) paying people less than a minimum wage. Rep AOC

If the vast majority of the Country doesn’t make a living wage, who spends all the money on stuff? A living wage makes no provision for non-necessity spending (dare I mention tattoos or lottery tickets again?) In fact, the average American earns $23.99 an hour.

Technically speaking the vast majority of the Country does make a “living wage” but many certainly not sufficient for a very comfortable living style.

We should not confuse wages with income, because there is household income as opposed to individual income and for those paid hourly, a few hours OT can make a big difference in gross income. Many of us worked two jobs in the early years, many “worked” many extra hours going to school at night.

The MIT calculator illustrates a living wage by area of the country and family makeup. Needless to say there are significant variables across the US so it is impossible to say there is one living wage in America. If you look at the living wage for an individual in the NYC area it comes to about $15.00 where Sen Sanders no doubt gets his target minimum wage.

These are the MIT components “living” wage expenses. You will note from this list there is no allocation for non-necessities.






✔️Other (necessities) The basic needs budget includes cost estimates for items not otherwise included in the major budget components such as clothing, personal care items, and housekeeping supplies.


There is a valid argument to raise the minimum wage, but let’s not confuse that with having the skills and motivation to do better, to escape the living wage category.

One comment

  1. All your points are valid. About this talk on a “living wage” and the greedy top 1% of wage earners, I would like to put it into perspective. A recent report came out that the world’s top 1% wage earners make more than $32,400. More than 70% of the US holdholds made more than $32k thus making them the world’s top 1%. The average household income in India is $7024 and only $4138 in Africa. With US welfare payments in one form or another, I can’t see many Americans having less money than the average Indian or African even if an American does not work.

    Now in Africa they may be living in mud huts and have dirt roads but they are living. Some Africans can live to an old age. In America, throughout our history, many lived in mud adobe huts, log cabins, and even sod houses.

    Even with playing with the statistics of averages and median incomes aside, the real question is do we want to ensure a “living wage” or a minimum “standard of living” at the expense of the rest of the American workers? There is a difference between the two.

    At one time it was the normal to have everybody sleep in one room, then all the boys in one room and the girls in another. Some states child welfare departments pay for these kind of arrangements. Today, some people think that each child must have their own bedroom and bathroom. This is an example of a standard of living but I am sure that they can survive living in one or two bedrooms.


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