FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Is a $15 an Hour Minimum Wage Adequate?

shutterstock_270193067

Social movements calling for raising the minimum wage to $15/ hour with yearly adjustments for increases in the cost of living deserve support. However, earning $15/ hour will not guarantee a decent standard of living.

An individual working forty hours a week at $15/ hour for an entire year earns $31,200, an income that is more than two and a half times the 2014 official poverty threshold of $12,316 for one adult. One might readily conclude that this individual is doing well since $15/ hour is also more than twice the federal minimum wage of $7.25/ hour.

However, were the minimum wage raised to $15/hour, a big boost for many workers, one might still face great difficulties getting by financially, at least in some parts of the United States.

Using 2014 tax rates, after paying taxes, a single California privately employed full-time worker making $15/hour who rents and has no dependents or deductions would be left with $25,319 to live on.1 This is slightly less than $2,110/month.

In an expensive city such as San Francisco, the cost of rental housing alone is likely to eat up more than half of this monthly net income. After paying for basic necessities, there would presumably be little, if any, money left over. One might have to find a second job or go into debt to get by.   The loss of one’s job could be devastating.

A single person working full-time at $15/hour with additional financial burdens such as debts to pay or others to support would face a dicier situation.

Proposals for raising the minimum wage to $15/hour have received most traction in cities with the highest cost of living. When $15/hour has been embraced, it is usually phased in over a few years. For example, San Francisco’s minimum wage won’t reach $15/hour until 2018.

The current minimum wage in San Francisco stands at $12.25/hour. This means that many people working full-time there have to get by, after deducting taxes, on $1,765/month. This leaves one with $345/month less in disposable income than the one cited who makes $15/hour!

How any politician with at least a six or more figure income, especially those running for president, could not embrace a minimum wage of at least $15/hour shows how insensitive and coldhearted they are to the needs of people different than themselves. As inadequate as $15/hour may be, advocating for anything less is shameful.

Notes.

1. This worker’s 2014 federal taxes (that consist of income, social security, and medicare taxes) comes to 16.3% of gross income and 24.2% of taxable income. In 2010, Mitt and Ann Romney together paid a lower rate of federal taxes. Their comparable rate of tax on their gross income of $21,661,344 was 13.9%, 2.4% lower than the worker cited here. ( Romney 2010 tax return) The rate of taxation on their taxable income in 2010 was 17.6%, 6.6% lower than the 2014 rate paid by the person cited here making $15/hour. The rate of federal taxation paid by the Romney couple was lower because most of their income was not earned from working, but came from investments that are taxed at a lower rate than earned income. Most investment income came to be taxed at a lower rate than earned income beginning with legislation enacted during the last part of the Clinton administration.

More articles by:

Rick Baum teaches Political Science at City College of San Francisco. He is a member of AFT 2121.

September 24, 2018
Jonathan Cook
Hiding in Plain Sight: Why We Cannot See the System Destroying Us
Gary Leupp
All the Good News (Ignored by the Trump-Obsessed Media)
Robert Fisk
I Don’t See How a Palestinian State Can Ever Happen
Barry Brown
Pot as Political Speech
Lara Merling
Puerto Rico’s Colonial Legacy and Its Continuing Economic Troubles
Patrick Cockburn
Iraq’s Prime Ministers Come and Go, But the Stalemate Remains
William Blum
The New Iraq WMD: Russian Interference in US Elections
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Snoopers’ Charter Has Been Dealt a Serious Blow
Joseph Matten
Why Did Global Economic Performance Deteriorate in the 1970s?
Zhivko Illeieff
The Millennial Label: Distinguishing Facts from Fiction
Thomas Hon Wing Polin – Gerry Brown
Xinjiang : The New Great Game
Binoy Kampmark
Casting Kavanaugh: The Trump Supreme Court Drama
Max Wilbert
Blue Angels: the Naked Face of Empire
Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
William Boardman
The Shame of Dianne Feinstein, the Courage of Christine Blasey Ford 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail