‘The barest of the bare minimums’: Person sparks online debate over fair wages after sharing MIT report saying minimum wage should be $26

Not everyone is looking to become a billionaire; most are just trying to make ends meet. But the harsh reality of the federal minimum hourly wage in the United States makes it a daunting mission. Failing to keep up, the $7.25 an hour has stuck since 2009. No wonder people are still failing to cover their basic expenses, is it? As Americans continue to live paycheck to paycheck, activists are fighting to raise the national wage floor to a threshold of $15, what most workers consider a living wage.

But it turns out that $15 an hour just won’t cut it anymore. As researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), who developed the Living Wage Calculator, stated, “families and individuals working in low-wage jobs earn insufficient income to meet minimum standards given the local cost of living. So they created this tool to help people better understand the salary required to meet minimum living standards in their area.

Recently, New York-based Redditor 6inchsubstrate came across a report from MIT and shared some enlightening statistics with the AntiWork community. Raising awareness of the current financial situation, the post immediately sparked a major debate about living wages in the comments. Scroll down to read the user’s post, along with the reactions he received from people online, and be sure to consider the discussion in the comments.

Recently, a Redditor sparked a debate about living wages after sharing a report from MIT, claiming that the minimum wage should be $26.

Image credits: Alexander Mils (not the actual photo)

Image credits: Alex Kotliarskyi (not the actual photo)

Source: MIT

The user urged readers to check their region’s living wage using the calculator (providing links to the mentioned regions of New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY and Bronx County, NY), as well as take a look at the amount they should be spending on rent in the fair market rent documentation system. They also raised awareness that the current economic downturn, coupled with runaway inflation, can cause people to fall behind in paying their landlords. “If you use the inflation calculator and this data and compare it with that, you can see that the rent has exceeded inflation.”

In the MIT report shared by the user, the researchers pointed out that “living wages are the basic income standard which, if met, draws a very fine line between the financial independence of the working poor and the need to apply for public assistance or suffer from severe and constant food and housing insecurity. In light of this fact, living wage is perhaps best defined as a minimum living wage for people living in the United States.

The user also mentioned that the living wage calculator is the same one used by “The Fight for $15”, a global movement that started in 2012 to demand higher wages and union rights. “We are fast food workers, home health aides, child care teachers, airport workers, adjunct teachers, retail workers — and underpaid workers everywhere,” says- does it on their website. Struggling to survive, activists organized and fought for what they “knew was right”. “We’ve already won raises for 26 million people across the country — with 10 states at or close to reaching $15/hr — all because workers came together and acted like a union.”

But, according to Judy Conti, director of government affairs at the National Employment Law Project, a labor advocacy group, “when people shout [that a $15 minimum wage] is such a radical proposition, the radical thing about it is, quite frankly, how low it would actually be.

You see, if the minimum wage had kept pace with productivity gains in the economy since its value peaked in 1968, it would be nearly $23 an hour today, or an annual income of $46,000 dollars, economist Dean Baker wrote in a blog post for the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

“Making the minimum wage keep up with productivity growth is not a crazy idea. The national minimum wage actually kept pace with productivity growth for the first 30 years after a national minimum wage was created in 1938,” Baker explained. “Whereas [$23 an hour] is hardly a luxurious standard of living, it is certainly enough to sustain a middle-class lifestyle. For a couple with two incomes, this would represent $110,000 per year. Imagine that’s what people at the bottom of the labor force might reasonably expect when they’re in their 30s and 40s.

As the Redditor explained in the article, raising the hourly minimum wage to an amount that would allow families and individuals to cover basic expenses is “the strictest of minimums.” Do you agree with their ideas, dear readers? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this, so be sure to share them with us in the comments below.

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