By Emma Jackson
Often times, people hear about minimum wage going up and think it’s a good thing. You’re making more money! That’s awesome, right? Well, when minimum wage goes up, so does the cost of living. So you’re making more money, but spending more basically just to live. It is not as much of a win/win as you had originally thought.
The cost of living, or living wage, refers to the amount of income needed for a decent living. The purpose is to ensure that those working full-time have enough money to survive above poverty. This does not include costs of emergencies, eating out at restaurants, medical or automotive insurance, etc. It’s just the bare minimum to get by.
Often, the living wage is confused with minimum wage. They are not the same. Minimum wage is an amount set by law, the living wage is determined by costs. Originally, the minimum wage was set to keep workers out of poverty. However, it has not kept up with the cost of living. Therefore, people working 40+ hours a week at minimum wage cannot afford to survive with their expenses.
As a result, there is something called the living wage campaign. The goal is to make sure that the minimum wage is comparable to the living wage. There are two different campaigns worth mentioning. The first is called Raise the Minimum Wage. This works with the National Employment Labor Project to coordinate campaigns across the US. The second one is called the Universal Living Wage Campaign. This group seeks to sync the minimum wage increases with the cost of housing. Its goal is for no one to pay more than 30% of their income for their housing situation.
Overall, we need to demand a fair minimum wage that actually compares to the cost of living instead of people working full-time and still struggling to make ends meet. Hard working citizens should not be living paycheck to paycheck and people should not be put out on the streets because of unfair living wages.