Report Shows Minimum Wage Cannot Cover Basic Needs in WV
Charleston Gazette-Mail - A new report shows that minimum wage workers in West Virginia and across the country cannot make enough money to actually support their basic needs. Read
The annual report from the Alliance for a Just Society, titled ‘Pay Up! Long Hours and Low Pay Leave Workers at a Loss,' details the difference between minimum wages and what is known as livable wages, the hourly wage a single worker needs to make to cover basic living necessities. The report is produced annually, and has been published every year since 1999.
According to the 2015 report, West Virginia's minimum wage of $8 an hour leaves many workers in the state unable to pay for basic living essentials, including food, housing, utilities, transportation, health care, child care and clothing. Under current economic conditions, the study found that a minimum wage worker in West Virginia would have to work 72.2 hours a week to cover basic needs.
"Our state is lucky to have a lower cost of living than most other states," said Gary Zuckett, executive director of West Virginia Citizen Action Group. "However, this report still reveals that a minimum wage worker would have to put in over 72 hours a week to earn what's considered a living wage. This is one of the reasons poverty is so high in our state."
For minimum wage workers to be able to pay for their own needs without government assistance, the study found it would require government officials to increase the minimum wage to $14.44 per hour in West Virginia and $16.87 per hour nationally.
"While we should all celebrate the increase in West Virginia's minimum wage to $8 this year and $8.75 next year, far too many working families do not have enough income to afford the basics, and this has deprived our local economies of the spending needed to thrive," said Ted Boettner, the director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.