Sunday, December 2, 2012

living wage calculator

We've discussed the many problems of using a single figure to estimate poverty existence, as well as the inadequacies of the current measure adopted a half century ago to quantify extreme material hardship in the nation at that time.  . 

Well, Amy Glasmeier of MIT has developed a helpful online application, Living Wage Calculator, to estimate how much it actually takes for bare-bones existence across US counties and cities. Her calculator specifies the wage necessary to provide a more realistic minimum level of living and typical wages for various occupations available in the area, against the government specified minimum. It also breaks down the minimal cost of local living across a broad range of living expenses, including housing, groceries, and transportation, for eight different households bases on size and composition. 

According to Glasmeier: Our tool is designed to provide a minimum estimate of the cost of living for low wage families. The estimates do not reflect a middle class standard of living... Metropolitan counties are typically locations of high cost. In such cases, the calculator is likely to underestimate costs such as housing and child care. Consider the results a minimum cost threshold that serves as a benchmark, but only that. Users can substitute local data when available to generate more nuanced estimates. Adjustments to account for local conditions will provide greater realism and potentially increase the accuracy of the tool. As developed, the tool is meant to provide one perspective on the cost of living in America.

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