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When Prices Increase, But The Minimum Wage Has Not

The federal minimum wage hasn't gone up since 2009. But the price of almost everything else has.
Tyrone Turner/WAMU
The federal minimum wage hasn't gone up since 2009. But the price of almost everything else has.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25. And that rate hasn’t changed in 10 years, even though the price of everything from housing to transportation has increased.

But new reporting shows that wages around the country have grown, in part due to state and local measures which increase the minimum wage.

In Washington D.C., paying a living wage means a rate of $14.50 an hour. But even then, some workers say it’s not enough to make ends meet.

WAMU’s Sasha-Ann Simons spoke to Ed Lazere, the executive director of the DC Fiscal Policy Institute. He told her that in D.C., “the minimum wage is a floor, and the living wage should be something that is much closer to what it really takes to live on,” and added, “we’re going to be at the weird point in a year where the living wage is actually the minimum wage, and that’s clearly a bad place to be.”

Is it enough? Are businesses or the government responsible for ensuring everyone makes a salary on which they can live?

In partnership with our home station’s Affordability Desk, this is the beginning of our series on the cost of living around the country.

We’re calling the series “Priced Out,” and throughout, we want to hear from you. What do you need to make every month to live in the U.S. and have your basic needs met? And who do you think is responsible for providing a living wage?

Produced by Morgan Givens.


Adriana Kugler, Professor of economics and foreign policy, Georgetown University; former Chief Economist, United States Department of Labor (Obama Administration 2011 – 2013)

David Cooper, Senior economic analyst, Economic Policy Institute; deputy director, Economic Analysis and Research Network; @metaCoop

Sasha-Ann Simons, Race & Identity Reporter, WAMU 88.5; @SashaAnnSimons

For more, visit https://the1a.org.

© 2020 WAMU 88.5 – American University Radio.

Copyright 2020 WAMU 88.5

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