Could You Afford to Live on Minimum Wage?

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A New York Times interactive minimum wage calculator offers users a small glimpse into the realities of surviving on America's lowest legal pay.

Think you could live on minimum wage? Now you can find out with an interactive minimum wage calculator from The New York Times.

The Times’ calculator shows the harsh realities of living on our country’s lowest legal pay (with the exception of the $2.13 federal minimum wage for restaurant waitstaff).

It allows you to pick your state and then input expenses for basics like housing, food, health care and transportation to see how far your income from a minimum wage job would stretch before you run out of money to pay your bills. (The minimum wage in some states is higher than the $7.25 federal minimum wage and the calculator reflects that.)

It’s a bleak look at how little the 4.8 million minimum-wage workers have to spend on basic necessities. It reminds us of that budget planning site for McDonald’s employees that estimated you’d need not one, but two fast-food jobs to pay all of your basic bills. Meanwhile, studies have shown that the low pay for fast-food workers and bank tellers creates an additional burden for taxpayers in the form of food stamps, health care and other government programs for the poor.

The NYT interactive calculator also allows users to see how their budget would change under a Democratic proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10.

President Obama signed an executive order on Wednesday requiring that federal contract workers be paid a minimum of $10.10 an hour. The executive order will be implemented for new federal contracts beginning in 2015. According to CBS News:

“I’m going to do what I can; Congress should do what it needs to do,” [Obama] said from the East Room of the White House, flanked by workers who will benefit from the order. “I will not give up on this fight no matter how long it takes. America deserves a raise. Working families deserve to know some more economic security in their own lives.”

Click here to access the Times’ minimum wage calculator. What do you think of your results? Could you survive on minimum wage? Tell us below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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