Minimum wage workers in West Virginia are falling further behind. While minimum wages is $8.00, an actual living wage, the amount it takes a single worker to make ends meet, is $14.44 per hour.
A worker in West Virginia needs to work 72.2 hours a week at minimum wage to cover their own basic needs.
Today, Alliance for a Just Society is releasing “Pay Up! Long Hours and Low Pay Leave Workers at a Loss,” a national study showing that even the $15 an hour wage that is gaining momentum around the country is a modest proposal, and not enough for workers in most states to make ends meet.
Working full time should provide financial stability, not poverty. Low wage workers provide services we all count on every day as we do our shopping, dine out, or take our children to child care.
“Our state is lucky to have a lower cost of living than most other states. However, this report still reveals that a minimum wage worker would have to put in over 72 hours a week to earn what’s considered a living wage. This is one of the reasons poverty is so high in our state,” said Gary Zuckett, Executive Director of West Virginia Citizen Action Group (WV CAG).
A living wage allows workers and families to meet their basic needs without public assistance and set aside a small amount of savings for emergencies such as a car repair, or plan ahead for expenses such as high winter heating bill. The living wage calculation includes food, housing, utilities, transportation, health care, child care, clothing, savings, and state and federal taxes.
Ted Boettner, Executive Director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy (WVCBP) stated, “While we should all celebrate the increase in West Virginia’s Minimum Wage to $8.00 this year and $8.75 next year, far too many working families do not have enough income to afford the basics and this has deprived our local economies of the spending needed to thrive.”