Here’s the Gap Between the Minimum Wage and Cost of Living in Philly

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A new tool by MIT shows the enormous gulf between the minimum wage in and the cost of living in Philadelphia.

The state’s $7.25 minimum wage would need to be raised to $24.10 for a parent with a spouse and two children to be able to support their family in Philly, according to MIT urban studies professor Amy Glasmeier’s analysis. For a single adult, it would need to be boosted to $11.59 to meet a minimum standard of living.

The Living Wage Calculator[2] maps the gap between the minimum wage and cost of living in cities and counties throughout the country, with darker shades of red indicating a greater difference. Philadelphia is pretty red:

Map by MIT[3]

Map by MIT

Unsurprisingly, places such as Washington, D.C., Boston and New York City are an even deeper shade of red. In D.C., the living wage for a parent supporting a spouse and two kids is $28.33, according to the analysis. In Suffolk County, where Boston is located, it’s $27.01. In fact, the map shows there isn’t a place in the country where the minimum wage exceeds the living wage for a parent with a spouse and two children.

Advocates for a $15 minimum wage have recently been pressing on City Council, which returned this week from its summer recess, to adopt a local wage. Councilman Kenyatta Johnson introduced a bill[4] earlier this year that would ask voters if officials should back a higher minimum wage, and Council held a hearing[5] on the minimum wage in March.

But Council members seem unlikely to approve a local wage for now. The hurdle? State law bars municipalities from setting their own minimum wage. Activists say a loophole would enable Philadelphia to get around that, but both the city law department and Council President Darrell Clarke have said they don’t[6] believe[7] Philly has the authority to establish a wage.

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