(NEXSTAR) – Have you found yourself struggling to make ends meet, even though you have a full-time job? An updated tool shows it may be because of the area you live in.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has updated its Living Wage Calculator, a tool that allows you to determine the income needed to live in all 50 states, as well as local counties and metropolitan areas. Researchers rely on federal, state, and local data to create the Living Wage Calculator, which can be found here.
To use the Living Wage Calculator, select a state, city or metro area. You’ll be able to see a breakdown of the living, poverty, and minimum wages of 12 different family structures: variations range from having one to two adults with either one or both working, and zero to three children.
Below this table is a second table that outlines the typical expenses for each of the 12 structures. Expenses include food, child care, housing, and taxes. The living wage mentioned above is calculated by determining these basic expenses and how much one would need to make to afford them.
According to the updated Living Wage Calculator, a liveable wage in the U.S. (based on data from 2021) is $24.16 per hour before taxes for a family of four in which both adults are working. That’s up from $21.54 in 2020.
In north central West Virginia, single people with no children need to make the following to have what is considered a living wage in each county:
- Barbour – $15.37
- Doddridge – $15.56
- Gilmer – $15.09
- Harrison – $15.64
- Lewis – $15.36
- Marion – $15.53
- Monongalia – $16.40
- Preston – $16.40
- Randolph – $14.96
- Ritchie – $15.38
- Taylor – $15.07
- Tucker – $15.38
- Upshur – $15.37
- Webster – $14.54
In August, the same calculater estimated the living wage in north central West Virginia to be between $12 and 15, an increase of several dollars in less than a year.
“The minimum wage does not provide a living wage for most American families,” creators say in a release. “For two adult, two children families, the minimum wage covers 59.8% of the living wage at best in Washington and 29.9% at worst in Wisconsin.
A family of four living in the New York City area, the needed wage to cover basic expenses is higher than the national average at $30.16. In St. Louis, a family of four requires a liveable wage lower than the U.S. rate at $23.24. If that same family moved to the San Francisco area, the same family would need a wage of $35.56 to cover basic expenses.
To view your needed minimum income and cost breakdown, visit the MIT Living Wage Calculator.
At the start of 2022, 26 states increased their minimum wages. By 2026, the minimum wage will be at $15 in all or parts of 11 states. Still, nearly 20 states have minimum wages at the national minimum, $7.25, a rate that hasn’t been raised since 2009. Another eight states have minimum wages below $10.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, the spending power of that $7.25/hour has already dropped dramatically since 2009. In 2021 dollars, $7.25 was more like $9.17 per hour in 2009. (The inflation that’s happened since June of last year has made the difference even more dramatic.)
Many companies have announced increases to their minimum starting wages in recent months. That includes Target, Hobby Lobby, Verizon, and even the federal government – President Joe Biden raised the minimum wage for federal employees to $15 earlier this year.
So far this year, Americans have faced painful inflation with the prices of everything from gas to groceries rising. U.S. inflation hit 8.3% in April but has slowed from the 40-year high reported in March.
The Associated Press and Nexstar Media Wire’s Alix Martichoux contributed to this report.