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Can Anyone Define What a "Living Wage" is to me?

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I see this term thrown around all the time when it comes to minimum wage. I'm curious as to what this means.

Does living wage mean the minimum wage necessary to survive? Or is there a minimum amount of amenities one must also have such as a computer, car, television, etc.?

Minimum wage in America is more than what 90% of the rest of the world makes and even adjusting for purchasing power, living in the US is better than most of the rest of the world. I have a friend who makes less than minimum wage working for a charity and she says she gets by fine and doesn't accept food stamps because she doesn't want to set a bad example for the kids she mentors. Does this mean she is making a "living wage", or does living wage constantly change depending on a person's spending habits? And before the trolls come in and accuse me of partisanship, I am just telling a true anecdote that I understand is not proof of anything. I'd just like clarity on what criteria defines "living wage" and whether this means any less money will mean no longer living.
 

ecofarm

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Minimum wage should not be a "living wage". It should be an "I just got my first job, they gave me a chance even though I have no experience" wage.
 

Deuce

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"Poor" people have refrigerators. Refrigerators. *shakes angry fist*
 

Deuce

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Minimum wage should not be a "living wage". It should be an "I just got my first job, they gave me a chance even though I have no experience" wage.
Tell that to the companies that pay minimum wage to people who do not fit that description.
 

ecofarm

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Tell that to the companies that pay minimum wage to people who do not fit that description.
Hey man, people got problems.

Alternatively, we could name minimum wage the "I'm lucky I live in a country that provides an opportunity for me to work for so much money with basically no resume to speak of, I look forward to working hard for my first raise and eventually a promotion" wage.
 

Spartacus FPV

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Tell that to the companies that pay minimum wage to people who do not fit that description.
So 16 year olds should earn enough to live on their own and support a family because these older unskilled workers chose those jobs? At their age their resume didn't qualify them for a job at retail/fast food that doesn't pay minimum wage like Chipotle?
 

Glen Contrarian

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I see this term thrown around all the time when it comes to minimum wage. I'm curious as to what this means.

Does living wage mean the minimum wage necessary to survive? Or is there a minimum amount of amenities one must also have such as a computer, car, television, etc.?

Minimum wage in America is more than what 90% of the rest of the world makes and even adjusting for purchasing power, living in the US is better than most of the rest of the world. I have a friend who makes less than minimum wage working for a charity and she says she gets by fine and doesn't accept food stamps because she doesn't want to set a bad example for the kids she mentors. Does this mean she is making a "living wage", or does living wage constantly change depending on a person's spending habits? And before the trolls come in and accuse me of partisanship, I am just telling a true anecdote that I understand is not proof of anything. I'd just like clarity on what criteria defines "living wage" and whether this means any less money will mean no longer living.
According to Adam Smith, who is often called "The Father of Capitalism":

"Servants, labourers and workmen of different kinds, make up the far greater part of every great political society. But what improves the circumstances of the greater part can never be regarded as an inconvenience to the whole. No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable. It is but equity, besides, that they who feed, clothe and lodge the whole body of the people, should have such a share of the produce of their own labour as to be themselves tolerably well fed, cloathed and lodged."

Today, Adam Smith would be called a 'socialist' by conservatives. Personally, I'd say he's closer to being a progressive like myself.
 

Deuce

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So 16 year olds should earn enough to live on their own and support a family because these older unskilled workers chose those jobs? At their age their resume didn't qualify them for a job at retail/fast food that doesn't pay minimum wage like Chipotle?
Oversimplification of reality. Then again, that's basically libertarianism in a nutshell.
 

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I see this term thrown around all the time when it comes to minimum wage. I'm curious as to what this means.

Does living wage mean the minimum wage necessary to survive? Or is there a minimum amount of amenities one must also have such as a computer, car, television, etc.?

Minimum wage in America is more than what 90% of the rest of the world makes and even adjusting for purchasing power, living in the US is better than most of the rest of the world. I have a friend who makes less than minimum wage working for a charity and she says she gets by fine and doesn't accept food stamps because she doesn't want to set a bad example for the kids she mentors. Does this mean she is making a "living wage", or does living wage constantly change depending on a person's spending habits? And before the trolls come in and accuse me of partisanship, I am just telling a true anecdote that I understand is not proof of anything. I'd just like clarity on what criteria defines "living wage" and whether this means any less money will mean no longer living.
Living wage is a Unicorn idea proposed by some who feel they do not receive their "fair" share, even though they do not contribute equally. I call it a Unicorn, because it is mythical and unattainable. If the minimum wage were raised to what many want as a "Living" wage, the whole market would adjust in a very short time and they would have no more than they have now. The only effective difference would be that American products would simply become even less affordable and companies would have greater incentive to automate and outsource.
 

Fisher

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I see this term thrown around all the time when it comes to minimum wage. I'm curious as to what this means.

Does living wage mean the minimum wage necessary to survive? Or is there a minimum amount of amenities one must also have such as a computer, car, television, etc.?

Minimum wage in America is more than what 90% of the rest of the world makes and even adjusting for purchasing power, living in the US is better than most of the rest of the world. I have a friend who makes less than minimum wage working for a charity and she says she gets by fine and doesn't accept food stamps because she doesn't want to set a bad example for the kids she mentors. Does this mean she is making a "living wage", or does living wage constantly change depending on a person's spending habits? And before the trolls come in and accuse me of partisanship, I am just telling a true anecdote that I understand is not proof of anything. I'd just like clarity on what criteria defines "living wage" and whether this means any less money will mean no longer living.
There is no such thing objectively. It is just one of those phrases that sounds good and anybody who uses it is someone who feels entitled to some degree of material things. To illustrate, I will tell a story of what happened recently on another forum. Someone was waxing on about people needing to have a living wage. I asked them what that was. They said it was a wage that puts them above the poverty level. I then provided the links to show that the minimum wage for a 40 hour a week worker puts them at almost the federal poverty line for two people. Did they say "Oh, my bad"? Nope. The phase shifted and then suddenly tried to argue something different being the living wage.

I personally define a "living wage" as: The wage the reflects the speaker's sense of entitlement. That is the most workable definition I can come up with to date.
 

ocean515

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Tell that to the companies that pay minimum wage to people who do not fit that description.
Actually, what should be told to those who are getting minimum wage and don't fit that description, "what are you doing that you're only worth minimum wage"?

Frankly, I really don't understand why people care so little about the prospects of young people getting their first jobs. I guess to the liberal/progressive, the young don't deserve to work.
 

polgara

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Actually, what should be told to those who are getting minimum wage and don't fit that description, "what are you doing that you're only worth minimum wage"?

Frankly, I really don't understand why people care so little about the prospects of young people getting their first jobs. I guess to the liberal/progressive, the young don't deserve to work.
Ocean, IMO, it's not that they feel they don't "deserve" to work. The fear is... To paraphrase: "How are you going to keep them down on the farm (liberal giveaway plantation) after they've seen Paree" (making money they've earned while learning a skill and becoming responsible for their own life, and/or staying in school rather than dropping out and becoming dependent on above mentioned plantation largesse). :lamo:
 

ocean515

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Ocean, IMO, it's not that they feel they don't "deserve" to work. The fear is... To paraphrase: "How are you going to keep them down on the farm (liberal giveaway plantation) after they've seen Paree" (making money they've earned while learning a skill and becoming responsible for their own life, and/or staying in school rather than dropping out and becoming dependent on above mentioned plantation largesse). :lamo:
:thumbs:

Among a number of part time jobs I got in High School ($1.65/hr) was dish washer in a restaurant, and gas station attendant (yes, full service, with windows washed, thank you very much). Those were jobs people like me had when they were 16+. What are kids supposed to do today to get jobs, earn some money, gain some work experience, etc.? If minimum wage is a living wage, young people won't have a chance.

I guess the way some want it, young people need to borrow $100k from the government to go to college to go after whatever the government thinks they will be allowed to major in. Then they can come out and do some public service to work off the debt, and who knows what else. I guess wash dishes, since that will provide them a living.:eek:

I worked my way through college and grad school. I didn't borrow money. I cleaned office buildings at night, and did whatever it took.

That's how it used to work. That's how people learned they needed to work on their skills and knowledge to get ahead - or not.

As you know, it wasn't great all the time, and we never got paid what we thought we were worth, but who is?
 

polgara

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:thumbs:

Among a number of part time jobs I got in High School ($1.65/hr) was dish washer in a restaurant, and gas station attendant (yes, full service, with windows washed, thank you very much). Those were jobs people like me had when they were 16+. What are kids supposed to do today to get jobs, earn some money, gain some work experience, etc.? If minimum wage is a living wage, young people won't have a chance.

I guess the way some want it, young people need to borrow $100k from the government to go to college to go after whatever the government thinks they will be allowed to major in. Then they can come out and do some public service to work off the debt, and who knows what else. I guess wash dishes, since that will provide them a living.:eek:

I worked my way through college and grad school. I didn't borrow money. I cleaned office buildings at night, and did whatever it took.

That's how it used to work. That's how people learned they needed to work on their skills and knowledge to get ahead - or not.

As you know, it wasn't great all the time, and we never got paid what we thought we were worth, but who is?
And to carry your excellent post one step further, I don't recall ever being told that everyone gets a trophy just for showing up, either. We were told that we were taught everything we needed to know in a competitive world, and to always do our best, and make our school proud. (this was high school). It worked! By the time we got to college, we understood hard work, good grades, and what we needed to do to be considered a worthy hire by an employer. How times have changed! :screwy:
 

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And to carry your excellent post one step further, I don't recall ever being told that everyone gets a trophy just for showing up, either. We were told that we were taught everything we needed to know in a competitive world, and to always do our best, and make our school proud. (this was high school). It worked! By the time we got to college, we understood hard work, good grades, and what we needed to do to be considered a worthy hire by an employer. How times have changed! :screwy:
:agree

Imagine, one class valedictorian? My HS valedictorian absolutely deserved it. Everyone knew it, and as far as I know, kept her work ethic alive in the back of their minds. I know I did. (I just wasn't willing to put that kind of effort in!)

For some reason, people decided success was a bad word, and personal responsibility was something to be avoided. You are correct, screwy. Unfortunately, there are times I'm willing to think there is something more sinister to it than just being screwy. :shock:
 

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I see this term thrown around all the time when it comes to minimum wage. I'm curious as to what this means.

Does living wage mean the minimum wage necessary to survive? Or is there a minimum amount of amenities one must also have such as a computer, car, television, etc.?
I would say it is the minimum one needs to survive in a full time 40 hour workweek. It should cover food, clothing, rent, utilities, transportation to work, and basic healthcare. I am not concerned with it covering the debt people get themselves into. My own personal view is that someone who works hard at a job should have enough money to have some leisure activities like your standard computer and internet, but if we got to the point where they could survive on the wage to cover the necessities then I would be cool with that. Still, if you bust your ass for a company that makes billions a year they can afford to give the people who make their business work a life instead of just survival. Without the workers at walmart the president of the company would not be able to make all that money.

It should also be recognized a national minimum wage is pretty damned pointless as different regions have different costs.

Minimum wage in America is more than what 90% of the rest of the world makes and even adjusting for purchasing power, living in the US is better than most of the rest of the world.
First, that is a completely ignorant statement considering the cost of living in other places is far less than in the US. I could live like a king in mexico on US money, but that is because mexico is cheaper. You are really ignoring that reality in your statement and your reasoning sucks because of it.
I have a friend who makes less than minimum wage working for a charity and she says she gets by fine and doesn't accept food stamps because she doesn't want to set a bad example for the kids she mentors.
Ity really does depend on where you live. It is true for a person without major debt the minimum wage is perfectly fine in some places to survive. However, if you are trying to survive on it in others it is impossible without being a leach on others, like your friend is probably doing. try some areas in NY where minimum wage wont cover a bedroom. Just because your "friend" does it does not mean everyone is in a position to do so.
Does this mean she is making a "living wage", or does living wage constantly change depending on a person's spending habits?
I will admit there are some people who overspend for their position, but there are some places where you simply cannot live due to survival expenses on minimum wage. Moving is not always an option.
And before the trolls come in and accuse me of partisanship, I am just telling a true anecdote that I understand is not proof of anything. I'd just like clarity on what criteria defines "living wage" and whether this means any less money will mean no longer living.
There are certain things you need to maintain the job. The reality is you can live on a lot less if you don't work. If you work you have to maintain certain levels of dress and cleanliness, you have to have transportation, you need some regular place to store your clothing and sleep, you need to have nourishment so you can keep working, and I would say medicine because you get exposed to illnesses and other people to pass on sickness to. That is the reality of working dude, and perhaps you should figure that one out. But the reality is that by working for an employer you enable that employer to make money off of your efforts. The workers of any business allow it to make much more money than the owners could ever make on their own individual effort. perhaps you should start thinking about things like that. The lower end workers tend to do the most work, and be the most essential to the daily operations which make the higher ups much more money. For this they do deserve part of that american dream of living a higher quality life. I am not talking about a mansion and a hummer, but it would be nice if they could get beyond merely surviving and enjoy some things like a night out once and a while, or some hobbies. At the very least we, as the taxpayers, should not have to subsidize the food minimum wage workers earn because they are way below the poverty level.
 

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"Living wage" is a term used by people with zero economic knowledge.
 

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"Living Wage" is a progressive buzzword that insinuates businesses and corporations force their employees to starve to death in the streets because they can't afford food or shelter. It's not a real number. It's whatever progressives want it to be. I've heard some people state that everyone should be paid a living wage and that the living wage should be $20.00 or more an hour.
 

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Living Wage is the minimum amount of income needed to be considered middle class. Just slightly over "working poor".

To be considered middle class, one should have enough income to be able to afford decent shelter (running water, some form of HVAC, electricity, and few leaks in the roof), transportation, communication tools (tv, phone, possibly internet in this day), healthcare and enough "extra" income to save for a "rainy day"/retirement/kids education/downpayment on a house, or to be able to afford some modest luxuaries (weekly night on the town or once a year vacation trip).

Certainly minimum wage entry level workers shouldn't expect a true living wage, but anyone who managed to graduate high school and keep a job for more than a year or two should be paid closer to a living wage than minimum wage.

I have broken down some reasonable cost estimates before, and came up with something like $40k/yr for an individual and $60k for a family of three or four. Thats pretty close to our median wage and median family income. Essentially, at this point in history, around half our population makes less than a living wage.

I don't think that the issue is to whether or not minimum wage should be a living wage as it is having as many people in that living wage category as possible. Theoretically, if we equally distributed all income (including income from investments and business profits), it would work out to something like $125k per worker (gdp/employed people). So while there will always be people who are poor due to mental ability and mental illness issues, and there will always be some poor people because they chose to be poor, it's entirely possible, with our current level of production and productivity, that the vast majority of our population (maybe something like 90%) could potentially make a living wage - assuming that we had a far lower amount of income disparity. It's a goal for our society to strive for.
 

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There are certain things you need to maintain the job. The reality is you can live on a lot less if you don't work. If you work you have to maintain certain levels of dress and cleanliness, you have to have transportation, you need some regular place to store your clothing and sleep, you need to have nourishment so you can keep working, and I would say medicine because you get exposed to illnesses and other people to pass on sickness to. That is the reality of working dude, and perhaps you should figure that one out. But the reality is that by working for an employer you enable that employer to make money off of your efforts. The workers of any business allow it to make much more money than the owners could ever make on their own individual effort. perhaps you should start thinking about things like that. The lower end workers tend to do the most work, and be the most essential to the daily operations which make the higher ups much more money. For this they do deserve part of that american dream of living a higher quality life. I am not talking about a mansion and a hummer, but it would be nice if they could get beyond merely surviving and enjoy some things like a night out once and a while, or some hobbies. At the very least we, as the taxpayers, should not have to subsidize the food minimum wage workers earn because they are way below the poverty level.
Very true. All of it.

My son works at a convenance store chain, and he has to call in every day to find out which store he will be working at. He get's paid a little extra because he is willing to work at different locations, but he has the neccesity of having a cell phone and relieable transportation. He is also expected to conform to the company dress code.

Nothing pisses me off more than for my tax payer dollars to be spend subsidizing a company that pays wages that are so low that it's employees qualify for means tested welfare. It's the guberment subsidizing crappy companies, and it should be unacceptable to our society.
 

specklebang

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"Living wage" is a nonsense term. I asked about this in another thread and got the same non-answers you will get here.

I agree it is just a buzzword. It would depend on location and circumstances. You'd have 20,000 different living wages or more.

Lets imagine we decided the "living wage" was $25 an hour. But where? New York City, Bismarck ND, Las Vegas NV? How about family structure? Say we have Mom, Dad and 2 teenagers. Do they all get a "living wage"? Or do they each get part of a "living wage"? Are cars included? Or is my living wage different than yours because I live 8 miles from my job and you live 3 blocks from yours? This is why we have a MINIMUM wage. It's the minimum any business can pay. It provides a rational base. "Living wages" and Unicorns are equally great ideas. Not very practical though...
 

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Tell that to the companies that pay minimum wage to people who do not fit that description.
Companies are not in the business of making their workers rich. Sorry to burst your socialist bubble, but their single purpose is to make as much money as possible. They pay the workers just as much as they need to keep them happy. Not happy? Leave.

"Living Wage" is a progressive buzzword that insinuates businesses and corporations force their employees to starve to death in the streets because they can't afford food or shelter. It's not a real number. It's whatever progressives want it to be. I've heard some people state that everyone should be paid a living wage and that the living wage should be $20.00 or more an hour.
Progressives think "living wage" is something comparable to "rich people." See...if a "rich" person owns a yacht, they think a "poor" person is entitled to a boat. A "rich" person has a mansion? Then a "poor" person deserves a house.

The truth is that people don't "deserve" anything. Your ignorant bohemian ass can't get by on a minimum wage job? Get another one. Lots of people work two jobs. Hell, my wife and I BOTH had two jobs at first. Finally, we were on enough of a solid footing to only need one job. Then we began saving money instead of squandering it on discretionary junk. Progressives just find it easier to extort rich folks of their money, than be forced to earn it themselves.
 

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Living Wage is the minimum amount of income needed to be considered middle class. Just slightly over "working poor".

To be considered middle class, one should have enough income to be able to afford decent shelter (running water, some form of HVAC, electricity, and few leaks in the roof), transportation, communication tools (tv, phone, possibly internet in this day), healthcare and enough "extra" income to save for a "rainy day"/retirement/kids education/downpayment on a house, or to be able to afford some modest luxuaries (weekly night on the town or once a year vacation trip).

Certainly minimum wage entry level workers shouldn't expect a true living wage, but anyone who managed to graduate high school and keep a job for more than a year or two should be paid closer to a living wage than minimum wage.

I have broken down some reasonable cost estimates before, and came up with something like $40k/yr for an individual and $60k for a family of three or four. Thats pretty close to our median wage and median family income. Essentially, at this point in history, around half our population makes less than a living wage.

I don't think that the issue is to whether or not minimum wage should be a living wage as it is having as many people in that living wage category as possible. Theoretically, if we equally distributed all income (including income from investments and business profits), it would work out to something like $125k per worker (gdp/employed people). So while there will always be people who are poor due to mental ability and mental illness issues, and there will always be some poor people because they chose to be poor, it's entirely possible, with our current level of production and productivity, that the vast majority of our population (maybe something like 90%) could potentially make a living wage - assuming that we had a far lower amount of income disparity. It's a goal for our society to strive for.
You can't possibly gauge "living wage" because the higher you raise the pay floor, the more you impact macroeconomic costs. If people suddenly were paid a "living wage" of 20 bucks an hour like you suggested, the cost of products that rely on low-wage employees at any link of the chain will increase. Milk would be 10 bucks a gallon and bread would be 5 dollars a loaf. This would cause people to clamor for an even higher wage, at which point costs would go even higher.

You'd think after watching the hyperinflation of places like Chile in the early 70s and any eastern Europe nations in the 80s, people wouldn't be fooled into thinking that monetary manipulation suddenly solves the problem. To create a "liveable wage" would make money not worth the paper it's printed on.
 
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