A single person in California needs to earn, on average, about $12.30/hour working full time to cover basic living expenses. Add a kid to the mix, and that rate rises sharply to more than $25/hour.
That's according to the Living Wage Calculator created by Amy K. Glasmeier, a professor of urban planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Using data from various government agencies, her team calculated "living wage" rates for different household types in each state, county and major metropolitan area across the nation, then compared those rates to regional minimum wages.
"Living wage," as defined by Glasmeier, is the amount an individual needs to earn (before taxes) to cover all basic household expense (food + healthcare + housing + transportation + childcare + other necessities). The rate is based on full-time work (2,080 hours per year).
As her findings underscore, a significant gap often exists between a region's minimum wage and its living wage. It's a discrepancy that's recently been highlighted by protests among low-wage workers, as well as the growing number of cities and states that have raised their own minimum wages in the absence of federal legislation.
Mapped here are living wages for three types of households: single adult, single parent with one child and a parent with a non-working spouse and two children. Mouseover the map to view rates by county or major metropolitan area. For two-adult households, it assumes that one adult is the sole earner and the other a caregiver. Note that the map has not been updated to reflect California's Jan. 2016 wage increase (to $10/hr), or recently raised minimum wages in certain cities like San Francisco and Oakland. View full-screen version here. [Article continues below map.]