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The Real Living Wage? $17.28 An Hour – At Least


The Real Living Wage? $17.28 An Hour – At Least

Julie Chinitz

Fifteen dollars shouldn’t be too much to ask – or demand.

In almost every state, a worker needs more than $15 an hour to make ends meet. Add in student debt, and the minimum living wage shoots up to $18.67 an hour nationally. A family with children needs significantly more.


Minimum wage was $1.00/hr when I was a teen aged person living with mom and no bills. Candy bars cost 5¢. I could buy 20 candy bars for every hour I worked.

Today a candy bar costs about $1.25. Twenty candy bars cost about $25. Therefore, to match the wealth of this bare footed poor boy living on a dirt road requires about $25/hr, in 2016.

Who can guess what it will cost after the US holocaust of humanity and Earth goes on for another 15 years?


I remember those 5 cent candy bars. An for a quarter we could bowl 3 games and pay for shoe rental. The elite greed that requires everyone else to work for starvation wages in incomprehensible to this old mind. Ours is a very unhealthy society.


The consumer price index (CPI) reflected the real cost of living until Republican Gerald Ford and Democrat Jimmy Carter lost their elections (1976 and 1980, respectively) in large part due to being blamed for high inflation.

In order to prevent either party from ever being blamed for high inflation again, we experienced a bipartisan reformulation of how inflation, the cost of living, and the unemployment rate are calculated. Inflation and cost of living have been understated ever since, contributing to wage and benefit reductions, the dot com bubble, housing bubble, and other problems negatively impacting the 99% while enriching the 1%.


Capitalism. Think: Our middle class demanded for years that Big Government stop interfering with these issues, trusting in the free market system. They strongly supported Reagan's deregulation mania on the theory that this would give corporate powers the means to create that mass of "good, family-supporting jobs."

The US shut down/shipped out a huge number of jobs since the 1980s, ended actual welfare in the 1990s. This created an abundant surplus of job-ready people who are absolutely desperate for any job at any wage. Supply and demand. Why pay more?


Hm. Excellent summary of a very complex issue. Thank you, I think you nailed it.


Add to that the increase in SS tax. Then it was 3% now it is 7% including Medicare and sales tax was less than half. It was 3% in CA in 1965 and is now close to 10%.That Hershey Bar didn't used to be taxed at all and now it is.
The real cause of the inflation in relation to wages is interest on debt. In this country all money is created by debt that carries interest. Magret Kennedy calculated the percentage of the cost of goods was due to interest for Germany and she came up with 35-40%. I would bet that in the US it is more like 50%. Considering that the Hershey Bar should actually cost 60 cents. That is the price we pay to support the banksters. What they do is so purposely invisible that even economists don't realize it is occurring. At least I do not see anyone writing about it.
I did similar calculations using my memory of 1965 in Berkeley. For all the essentials of a studentl; housing, education, food, transportation and entertainment the minimum wage would have to be $25-$30/hr and for a Cal education $300/hr to match what minimum wage could purchase in 1965.
We must have been richer then. By the way, I had never heard of a student loan until my own children and their friends had to consider them.


People don't realize that a robust welfare system helps keep wages higher. They've been conditioned to believe that welfare is a drain on their wages when the opposite is true.


I've made that same point many times. After the first Reagan recession in 1982, he and congress changed how the CPI and inflation were measured. No longer was the price of housing, energy, and food to be including in the calculations, as they were "too volatile"
What the hell do they think Americans spend their money on?


Why pay more? It's accepted social principle that a person should be fairly compensated for the work they perform. The bottom line is it has to do with basic morality. Theft is not accepted by our society when someone steals another person's property and it used to be the same with their labor. Unfortunately people have been dehumanized to the point to where they are fair game when it comes to what they produce. Morality is no longer part of the picture and that is not only a shame but criminal as well.