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Living On A Living Wage

5:48 PM, Jul 11, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Dozens of federal contractors who work for the Smithsonian and make minimum wage or close to it, went on strike to protest low wages. 

D.C.'s minimum wage is $8.25 an hour, a dollar more than the national minimum wage. Organizers call the low wages poverty pay. 

Rev. Kelly Wilkins of the Covenant Baptist Church of Christ said before the crowd that the people striking "are also on strike to protest a federal contracting system that pays corporate executives millions while leaving our workers struggling to survive." 

So, what can a person who makes minimum wage afford?  

The cheapest advertised apartment for rent in the D.C. was a one bedroom at the River Hill Apartments on 2nd Street in SE.  It rents for $780 a month, too high for a person making minimum wage.   

The renters' (there can only be three people) annual income must be no lower than $28,000.  

A minimum wage job brings in only about $17,000 annually. 

If you're a single parent with a child,  after taxes, you're left with about $12,000.  Subtract food, health insurance, and bus fare, and you've got less than $6,000. This is not enough to pay for housing on one full time job. You'd have to have two jobs, or a roommate or spouse to bring in more money.  

A Costco official told us its lowest starting average hourly rate is $11.50 per hour, meaning a person working 40 hours per week would be earning $21.35 to $23.05 per hour in about 4 1/2 years. Costco says the current average hourly rate for all of its U.S. hourly employees -- both full-time and part-time -- is over $21.00 per hour.

The Economic Policy Institute says D.C. is the most expensive city in the the United States to raise a single child. The EPT's says a couple with two children requires $88,615 in annual income to afford the basic necessities in D.C.

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