National

EPI Data Show It’s Impossible to Get By On Minimum Wage

July 12, 2013
By Neal Tepel

Washington DC – EPI’s family budget calculator demonstrates that it is impossible for families living on minimum-wage jobs to make ends. The real costs for families to live modest, economically secure lives are much higher than conventional estimates show for all cities across the country.

For minimum-wage workers, it is nearly impossible to meet basic family needs, a new EPI report finds. Because poverty thresholds, generally set at the national level, were created to measure serious economic deprivation and do not account for community-specific costs, the dollar amount necessary for a family to attain a secure yet modest living is much higher than conventional estimates, particularly in more affluent areas of the country.

“Our family budget calculations show that the real costs for families to live modest, not even middle class, lives are much higher than conventional estimates show, and for families living on minimum-wage jobs, it is virtually impossible to make ends meet,” said Elise Gould, EPI Director of Health Policy Research. “In fact, the actual amount of money a family needs to provide the most basic necessities exceeds the official poverty threshold, which stood at $23,283 for a two-parent, two-child family in 2012, for all six family types in all 615 family budget areas according to our most recent report."

Even in the best of economic times, many parents in low-wage jobs will not earn enough through work to meet basic family needs. Annual wages for one full-time, full-year minimum-wage worker could total $15,080, far below what is necessary for a one-parent, one-child family to live in even the least expensive family budget area, Simpson County, Mississippi.

“The fact that hardworking families are struggling to afford their basic needs makes clear how critical government policies are to ensure that our families can afford such basic necessities like food, child care, housing, transportation, and health care,” said Gould.

July 12, 2013

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