Map Shows Every State You Can’t Afford If You Earn Minimum Wage

Hint: it's a lot of states.

minimum wage

There have been many talks lately about raising the minimum wage for workers to help boost people out of poverty. The fact that people can’t afford the necessities with a job that pays the minimum is bananas.

And now, a new map shows every state you can’t afford to live in if you’re only making minimum wage. And there’s a lot of them.

According to Digg, Reddit user u/loveandwars looked into how possible it is to live comfortably on the minimum wage in every state across the country. The user compared the state’s wages verse the cost of living, data compiled from MIT’s living wage calculator and the Economic Policy Institute.

According to the U.S Department of Labor, the federal minimum wage in the United States for nonexempt employees is $7.25 per hour. Many states have minimum wage laws, and most states have the same or higher set wage minimum than the federal minimum (Wyoming is the only state with a lower set wage). However, employees are entitled to whichever of the two is higher.

But when looking at the minimum wage, there’s more that factors into it than just that number. For example, the cost of living (average cost of rent vs. food vs. taxes vs. utilities, etc.) is different in each state. And when we compare that to the wage, it’s easy to see how lower wages traps people into poverty. This causes a vicious cycle of working full time or holding more than two jobs yet struggling to pay rent and put food on the table.

Looking at the data presented in the map, it’s clear right away that many of the states, particularly ones in the south, don’t provide a wage that would cover the cost of living. Meaning you can’t afford to live there if you don’t make more than the minimum wage, a wage that employs millions and millions of workers and parents across the country.

Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky are just a few of the states where workers making minimum wage will only cover 45-55 percent of living costs.

Arizona, New Mexico, California, Vermont, Colorado, and Maine are a few of the handful of states that will cover 75-85 percent of living costs while making minimum wage.

Several Redditors pointed out that the data and results are more nuanced than the map can show. For example, some counties within the states, whether suburbs or rural, city or town, can also impact how far the minimum wage covers the cost of living expenses.

But the map is essential to take a look at because when you hear people advocating for an increase in federal and state minimum wages, this puts into clear perspective why that’s long overdue.