$ 15 an hour is not enough, especially in New York – Washington Square News

The fight for the $ 15 minimum wage began in 2012. Adjusted for inflation, $ 15 in 2012 is worth $ 17.41 today. In January, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) led the Democratic Party by reintroducing the Raise the Wage Act in January. This invoice would raise the federal minimum wage to $ 15 an hour by 2025 – as an amendment to Biden’s new COVID-19 relief plan. The amendment failed 52-48 in a Senate vote earlier this month, and the fight for a federal minimum wage of $ 15 has once again lost. While this new minimum wage may help many people, it’s time to take a critical look at what a living wage means today, because $ 15 an hour is not enough.

For America’s most expensive cities, the cost of living is around 40% to 80% higher than the national average. For New Yorkers, who live in the second most expensive city ​​in the United States, the implementation of the minimum wage of $ 15 an hour in 2019 is still not enough to address the city’s affordability crisis.

City Harvest, New York City’s largest pantry vendor, conducted a to study who concluded that the minimum wage of $ 15 an hour would be insufficient. Despite the increase in the wage rate, two out of five households still do not have the necessary income to cover their needs. In addition, the minimum wage is unable to keep up with the cost of living in this city. If someone was paid $ 15 an hour and worked 40 hours a week, they would receive $ 31,200 a year. This is before taxes are deducted. People cannot maintain a decent standard of living in New York with an annual pre-tax income of $ 31,200 today – much less in 2025. The median income in 2020 for low-income families of four ranges from $$ 56,850 to $ 90,960 At New York.

There are many factors that determine a living wage. The first and most important is the cost of housing. For a true living wage, it should not exceed 30% of income. According to the “National Low-Income Housing Coalition”Out of reachReport that the minimum wage needed to afford an average two-bedroom apartment in the United States is $ 23.96 an hour.

To pay for the average one-bedroom apartment, the minimum wage must be $ 19.56 per hour. In New York state, you have to earn $ 32.53 an hour – or work 110 hours a week for the state’s minimum wage – to afford an average two-bedroom apartment.

This gap between what the minimum wage provides and what is needed live in New York only grows by looking at the different neighborhoods and boroughs of New York. For example, affording a one-bedroom apartment in Chinatown would require an hourly wage of $ 35.38. To pay for a two-bedroom apartment in the same neighborhood, someone would have to earn $ 40.38 an hour. That’s more than double the minimum hourly wage of $ 15 that many low-income workers receive in New York City.

Housing is not the only necessity that a living wage must cover: food security, childcare and transportation must be affordable. If the average rent for a studio and one-bedroom apartment is greater than $ 2,500, which leaves about $ 10,000 of pre-tax income per year for the rest of those needs. Groceries cost on average about $ 470 per month per person in New York – it’s $ 5,640 per year. Unlimited metro pass costs $ 127 per month, or $ 1,524 per year. If you have a child who is too young for school, the average annual cost of childcare has exceeded $ 16,000 in 2015. In total, it is impossible to budget your needs at $ 31,200 per year, or $ 24,812 after taxes.

Fighting for a minimum wage above $ 15 an hour is not only essential for full-time employees, but also for students. University is one of the most demanding times in a person’s life: students are required to take full courses, participate in extracurricular activities, have a rich social life, and complete internships, many of which are unpaid. . A salary of $ 25 to $ 35 an hour allows low-income students to work fewer hours and achieve financial stability. Working fewer hours gives students more time to spend with studies, extracurricular activities, their friends, family and, most importantly, themselves.

If $ 15 an hour was barely a living wage in 2012 – four years after the Great recession – so why have our demands for a living wage not been adjusted for inflation? Why expect $ 15 an hour to maintain its value for four more years?

Fighting to give workers a living wage is a necessity. We can no longer go along with $ 15 an hour as a living wage because it does not meet the needs most people need to survive, especially in an expensive city like New York. I have worked a total of almost 30 hours over the past two weeks, some of which could have been used for homework, attending Union Parliamentary Debates practice, or engaging in a hobby that I ‘appreciate. Instead, I earn a sum of money that will last me for the next two weeks. Fortunately, I don’t have to earn enough to pay the rent or the utility bills. I am only responsible for myself, the food I need and occasional miscellaneous needs. How many of our peers have this luxury?

The opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our posting of opinions is not an endorsement thereof.

A version of this article appeared in the electronic edition of Monday, March 15, 2021. Email Srishti Bungle at [email protected]

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