Op-Ed: Is $32,200 a Living Wage?

By Bill Britton 

President Biden’s American Recovery Plan totals $1.9 billion and included a minimum wage rise to $15 per hour, before the House of Representatives parliamentarian struck down the latter because of arcane procedural rules. 

Let’s examine that $15 per hour minimum and put it in the context of today’s economic reality.

At $15 per hour a single wage earner in a household of four would realize an annual income of $32,200, $5,700 above the poverty line. But the average hourly wage in the U.S. is really $11.43 or $23,774 per annum, which is below the poverty line. Of course, there are many making much less than that. Think of your cleaning lady or the field hand who picks your fresh fruit. 

The median household income for a family of four in the U.S. is $94,593. Of that, $7,000 is spent on groceries, $10,000 on housing, $9,000 on transportation, $7,000 on utilities, and the remainder on taxes, clothing, healthcare, social security, debt payments, savings, charities, and education (note: these are rough figures). For a worker making a minimum wage, that person must either have a second job or another member of the household must work, which begs the question, who will watch the kids or care for an elderly or ailing family member? 

Those making $23,774 have no real lobbying influence in Washington, although they do have the Democratic Party, which stands up for them when it is politically expedient to do so. I ask the reader and those in Congress, could your family get by on $23,774 or even $32,200? I would also ask Jeff Bezos of Amazon, what is more important to you, that fresh produce in your refrigerator or your stock portfolio?  

I don’t believe in wealth equalization via communism, but I do believe that if wealth is not redistributed equitably, the U.S. will see waves of civil unrest that will make the insurrectionist attack on the Capitol seem minor league. 

Bill Britton is a freelance writer and formerly an editor for John Hopkins University Press, ABI Research, and Elsevier Science, He is a frequent contributor to Vero Communiqué.

His views are his own and do not represent the views of Vero Communiqué.

We strive to encourage a free and open exchange of opinions and welcome yours. Through discussions like these we can all learn more about the topics themselves and the perspectives of others.’

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