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21 States Raised The Minimum Wage in 2022, But Living Costs Are Rising Faster

Teen Vogue

April 8, 2022

Thanks to voters in 21 states, hourly workers around the country saw their paychecks increase. Michigan, Colorado, and Minnesota were the most timid with their raises, increasing them by 22 cents, 24 cents, and 25 cents, respectively. Illinois, New Jersey, California, and New Mexico, meanwhile, enacted raises of a dollar, while Delaware’s increased by $1.25 and Virginia’s by $1.50.

More and more experts and advocates are echoing the same sentiment. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) online living-wage calculator, created in 2004, uses “geographically specific expenditure data” to determine the hourly rate needed for people to be able to afford everyday living in a given place. The tool factors in common costs that put its minimum cost of living estimate above the federal poverty rate. For Washington, D.C., the calculator puts the living wage at $20.21 for an adult with no children and jumps to $38.48 for an adult with one child. Georgia’s most populous county, Fulton County, gets a living wage recommendation of $16.72 for an adult with no children and $31.70 for an adult with one child.

In Sacramento, the digital tool puts the living wage at $16.99 for an adult with no children, but for a working adult living with a non-working adult, like Ralston and his grandmother, the tool recommends a living wage of $28.74. A recent report from Drexel University’s Center for Hunger-Free Communities makes a case for similar numbers for the entire country, writing, “A true living wage that supports a basic standard of living without food and housing insecurity would be between $20 and $26 or more per hour, depending on the state.”

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