A $15 minimum wage still won't be a living wage for many families, MIT and CNBC analysis says

  • A CNBC analysis of cost-of-living data looked at how minimum wages compare to living wages.
  • For families, the proposed $15-per-hour minimum wage still falls short of a living wage.
  • For single adults, the $15 wage would bring about half of states to a living wage.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

A new CNBC analysis of cost-of-living data from Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers looks at how a $15 minimum wage stacks up against a living wage.

For families with two children and two parents working at the minimum wage, current minimums in every state are below a living wage, and even the proposed increase to $15 an hour may still fall short for those families. As CNBC reports: “A $15 minimum wage would push a number of states closer to a living wage, but none would meet or exceed it.”

That data doesn’t take into account any income those families receive from safety net programs. A recent study from UC Berkeley’s Labor Center found that lower wages cost taxpayers more than $100 billion a year, as almost half of the families who would see a raise from a $15 minimum wage rely on at least one social safety net program. The study found that 42% of the $254 billion spent on safety net programs goes to those families.

A $15 minimum wage would go a little bit further for single adults, according to the CNBC analysis. For them, minimum wages currently “fall short” of a living in every state. However, a $15 minimum wage would be a living wage for single adults in about half of the states.

Insider previously reported on the value that a $15 minimum wage would have in every state. Since the cost of living varies in each state, the value of the wage also fluctuates. Insider found that the new potential minimum would go the furthest in Mississippi, where it would be worth $17.77. Per the CNBC analysis, Mississippi is one state where a $15 minimum wage would provide a living wage for single adults. 

Democrats are currently pushing for a $15 minimum wage as part of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus relief package, aiming to pass the increase through reconciliation. However, Biden has reportedly indicated that he thinks the raise won’t be feasible — and two Democratic senators have also expressed their hesitations.

But the $15 minimum-wage’s champion, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), has said he’s “confident” the hike will stay in the stimulus package. Under the current Democratic plans, the minimum wage would gradually increase to $15 by 2025. By then, $15 won’t even be worth what today’s $15 is because inflation will impact its value.

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