As the issue of raising the minimum wage spreads from Iowa counties to finally garnering the attention of Governor Branstad, new research shows that single workers in Iowa must be paid $15.10 per hour just to cover basic expenses. Those paying off student debt must be paid $16.74 per hour.
Waiting for the Payoff: How Low Wages and Student Debt Keep Prosperity Out of Reach, a new report from People’s Action Institute calculates living wages, both with and without student debt payments, for all 50 states and Washington, D.C. The report shows that Iowa’s minimum wage of $7.25 represents only 48 percent of the true cost of living for a single person. For families with children, the minimum wage lags even farther behind.
- Read the full report, titled “Waiting for the Payoff: How Low Wages and Student Debt Keep Prosperity Out of Reach“here.
- Iowa specific data, with Polk & Story County breakdowns, can be viewed here.
Featured in the report is Iowan Tonja Galvan, who has been actively involved in the campaign to raise the minimum wage in Polk County. Tonja notes that even though she makes what is considered a living wage, her mother and daughter do not, so along with her granddaughter all must live under the same roof just to try and make ends meet.
A living wage would allow families like Tonja’s to cover basic expenses, such as housing and utilities, and save modestly for emergencies.
With wages falling far below the cost of living, many Iowans are working two or three jobs, cutting back on essentials like food, borrowing from predatory lenders, living in vehicles, or taking other drastic measures to get by.
These figures show how modest a $15/hour wage increase proposal is. We need to raise the minimum wage to $15/hr with no exemptions and no pre-emption. We cannot put the interests of big business corporations over everyday people. It’s time to raise the wage for all Iowans.
As we move the Fight for $15 forward to the Statehouse next session, it is crucial that as many people as possible know $15/hr is not just ideal, but a researched back necessity for hundreds of thousands of Iowans.
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