The reason our economic system is broken is because of housing, full stop. Food is cheap, gas is cheap, clothes are cheap -- but housing is by far the biggest bite, and housing costs proportionately four or five times as much as it did 30-40 years ago. That's because there have been hardly any new units built in the areas people want to live.

The old model was "build a crapload of crummy single-family houses way out in the sticks and let people commute into town", but that doesn't work with today's job mobility and vastly increasing urbanized area. Sprawl ain't working.

But sprawl ain't going away, either, because most people can't begin to afford to live in the city (a handful of @1's "baristas" notwithstanding). The areas of sprawl need to become areas of dense development. These may not be hiply desireable like Pike/Pine, but they need to be more than they are now, because an area the size of the LA-Long Beach CSA with the population density one-fifth as large, which is what we've got now, just doesn't work.

We need to become LA, basically. Our only other choice is to become SF, with Bellevue our San Jose. Hipper, maybe, but less affordable.

A $15 wage is a good start, but it's not going to solve the problem. Neither are a handful of apodments or whatever in desireable areas. We need several million housing units, not several hundred.
Slightly related, I keep reading that the average American will spend $700-$800 on holiday gifts this year. That seems high. Am I just stingy and/or do I just know poor people? I'd love to see a slog posting about how much "the average American" spends on xmas/holiday gifts.
How are they calculating the transportation costs? Even if you take transit everywhere, a bus pass is going to run three times as much. And it's nice to know that I, as a college-educated, white collar worker, just barely make a living wage for this region.


It seems high to me, but I also don't have many recipients. I spend maybe a third to half as much, but I only spend real cash on my boyfriend. Everyone else gets a gift that ranges $10-$20 in worth depending on if it's store-bought or made by hand.
If we had not allowed unions to die workers would have power. Unions were born out of poverty, maybe they will be born again.
Conclusion: people should stop having so many fucking kids.
Those who don't think workers deserve $15/hr seem to think that those workers need to eat about as much as Mitt Romney does. And no, Fnarf, food is not inexensive, unless you live on starches.
@2: Are you suggesting that LA is five times more dense than Seattle?
Compare that chart of expenses to the fact that a household of three (one adult and two children) must make less than $36,131 to qualify for Free & Reduced Lunch at Seattle Public Schools. 40% of SPS students are eligible. Growing up poor is very much the norm for Seattle children.
I'm a dork. I interpreted $620 as the amount for the full year. In that case, $620 is awfully high, unless you consider driving to be some sort of base requirement for a livable lifestyle.
Savings of 10% on these budgets? Har, har! $722/month for rent and utilities, when new apartments are charging well over $1K/month for a studio? No wonder so few can afford today's Seattle.
@8 Depends on how you measure, the densest neighborhoods of Seattle are denser than the densest parts of LA……

The average density of the CITY of LA and the CITY of seattle are roughly the same: (8,225/sq mi) (7,402/sq mi)

The metro areas are pretty disparate (12,113.9/sq mi v 4,721.6/sq mi), but the Seattle metro has a lot less people and a lot more low-density areas than the greater LA metro area and blah blah blah:…

The thing about the LA area and environs is the never-ending sea of people. Sprawl and transit are huge issues, but better examples of sprawl are places like DFW Texas with half the people spread over twice the area.
You can save a lot of money by living within a mile or two of where you work, even if you have to pay more in rent.

That said, let me assure everyone that it sucks making less than $14/hour in Seattle.
Any nothing for healthcare. One root canal and the budget is blown.

If I may ask, how does it suck?
No movie theaters? no restaurants? hand-made Christmas gifts? Not sure what you mean, but happy to hear you out.
Well, work hard in school, get good grades, study on weekends, show up for work on time and work hard and you too can make a decent living.

BTW good luck keeping rents down once poorly educated burger flippers start making $15/hr and start hunting for apartments.

"Conclusion: people should stop having so many fucking kids."

Liberals feel the same way about condoms as they do about evolution: love it in theory, hate it in practice, and when it goes wrong, someone else has to pay the bills.
Can someone please explain how the $15.00 minimum wage will affect those who are currently making $15.00 an hour? I hold a position that is definitely more demanding and requires more skill than an entry level or fast food job. I'm not sure what I would do if my son the burger flipper was making just as much as me.
@17 move to Venezuela and enjoy leftist economics along with 54% inflation and a currency crash. This is the world Sawant proposes. Artificiality raise wages, when prices climb, slap on price controls, when products vanish from shelves blame the Yanqui.
@17, what WOULD you do, kick him out of your home? Geez, what a great father.
That's an interesting question, but I don't have an answer. Goldie would be a good person to answer you. He seems to know a lot about life.

You're going to get all kinds of weird averages if you average together the spending of the 1% with the 99%. The concept of "the average American" only means something if you have approximately a normal distribution of wealth and consumption. But all the curves now are drastically skewed.

We need to start talking about "the average 99%er", not "the average American".
@21 that is why most serious people use median, not mean when they discuss average. when you ask people what the average of something is, they will spit out "mean" but think in terms of median.
Goldensteinenberg missed it, two victories for tax payers in Illinois and Detroit as budget busting state pensions get whacked back into reality. Your gravy train is over folks and it's being done by ... Democrats!


You can thank Reagan it was his policies that are now crushing the middle class. G.H.W. Bush tried to pull back against that but got tossed out of office. Clinton triangulated and held us together for awhile. Alas G. W. Bush stomped that into the mud. Obama has tried to implement a sensible center right policy but has been stymied by a bat shit crazy Republican party.
@19 Chill out. You totally misunderstood. I still don't know what I would do, but kicking my son out didn't even enter my head until you brought it up. I was thinking more along the lines of leaving my current job and taking a less stressful job at a fast food joint. But since you did bring it up. My son will have the possibility of having a bigger pay check than me after taxes, insurance, 401K, etc. Dang, that's depressing.
@25, Yes, quite deressing that you've got a 401(k) and medical insurance and he doesn't.
@26 He's in high school! He does have insurance because I pay for it! I only wanted to know how the minimum wage raise would affect my hourly wage because they are the same! What's wrong with you?
I might sound like an elitist prick here but if you have any brains you know it's going to take at least 50k a year to live comfortably in a place like Seattle. Sure you could squeak by on 35 but that's like entry level salary out of college. I'm all for raising the minimum wage but living in the best cities and neighborhoods isn't a fundamental human right. Yes healthcare should be single payor and hell even college should be free but there has to be SOME incentive to use your fucking head and figure out how to make enough money to live how you want.
Even these numbers are WAY under par for King County let alone Seattle proper. While I tend to agree there needs to be a $15.00 minimum wage at worst, there should be a multi-tiered minimum wage based on # of employees. The larger the number of employees, the higher the minimum wage. Skilled vs. Unskilled etc. The idea of a 'one size fits all' minimum wage is ridiculous. And I agree - Unions are the fix in many respects - Sweden has no minimum wage, 84% of workers are represented by a union that has a collective wage agreement, and those NOT in unions -- still get paid the same 'fair wage' negotiated by unions!! There are so many aspects of America's economy that have been deeply broken by neo-liberal policies, it will be another 4 decades before personal deleveraging from insurmountable pre-crisis debt, and redistributing of this country's wealth from the 1%.... People fear the specter of socialism -- I hate to tell you but Denmark, Norway, and Sweden seem to be doing just fine with the legacy of Democratic Socialism. Iceland only got screwed when they caved into neo-liberal "off-shore banking economy". Look at Ireland (also screwed by a neo-liberal scheme). Minimum wage isa start, but without a progressive state income tax to re-balance wages and encourage hiring vs. hoarding profits (I'm looking at you Gates, Bezos, Allen!) -- WA is just going to continue spiraling. Look to Sweden for answers - roughly 9 million people and far outstripping Washington State in terms of GDP, Healthcare, Life expectancy, Happiness, Wages, and just about everything. We want to be more like Sweden and less like Somalia (I'm looking at you Tea Party/anti-government republicans).
@29 Wow, Washington State sounds hellish. How come I like it so much here?
@28, Around here, it's pretty much narrowed down to the career paradigms of software engineering and aerospace that pay the comfortable wages, outside of that, most of the people that use their fucking heads and have incentive that don't fit into those opportunity clusters are chasing too few jobs to succeed.
@29 how is Washington state more like Somalia? I was just in walla walls wine tasting and had nonsense of warlords in Technicals were about to spoil the atmosphere. Maybe you're thinking of Starbucks on Phinney when all those hard working Somali drivers gather for morning coffee? Should I ask them if the great state of Washington is 'more like Somalia'?
@31 I'm not in either of those two groups and my family is doing just fine. Maybe you're just an idiot and paid accordingly?

Tons of occupations. Take your pick.
Where did this budget table come from ? I read the Job Gap Study PDF you linked to and still don't see why this person in household 1 is spending $620 a month on transportation.... and why that number decreases when kids are added.

What's a kia lease for nowadays, $150 a month ? Two tanks of gas a month ... insurance... add that in you've got maybe $350 a month. Where does that get up to $620 ?

A bus pass is still $99 a month, right ?
@33, more like not in either group, but victimized by layoffs and middle age, but doing ok. What's your excuse for a disposition?
@36 victimized? Grow a pair please before I get weepy.
" why this person in household 1 is spending $620 a month on transportation"

Rims. They're a basic human right. Especially 20" ones.
@35: Parking?
hahahahahahah housing and utilities @ 772 for an adult ahahahahahahahahaha

But seriously, the idea that I can barely afford to live and work on the SAME STREET is madness.

Entry level out of college? What are you smoking? Entry level out of college is maybe $24,000/year for non-specialized white collar workers, which, by the way, is exactly the same dollar amount as it was when I graduated. I've been in the workforce for ten years, and I make about $35,000.
Trolls, simplified:

"Guh. Stupid poors, thinking they get to enjoy life. How dare they?"
I can understand about rent but I don't know why the median food budget is so much. My budget for food ( mostly organic) is 150. Can the stranger do a poll of what people's living costs are and make that data open?
It may please people to know that two counties in the great state of Maryland have voted to gradually raise their minimum wage to around $11 an hour by 2017. It may seem a bit low for the expensive city dwellers, but since it is county-wide it will greatly hlep those in lower income/cost of living areas.

Normal people are finally starting to understand that the artificially low minimum wage is driving people into poverty and stagnating the economy.

Good times.
@3 and 4: No kids, and the husband's gift will cost about $225. But his parents and step parents are still alive, plus we both have multiple siblings, plus the multiple siblings have multiple kids. Add in some uncles, aunts and cousins to whom we are close, and even at $10-20 per head, we'll hit $700-800 real quick.

With a couple of kids the cost would skyrocket : a bicycle, a gamenox and some games, maybe an I -pad, some stocking stutters. You get the picture.
@1 - What would you consider an appropriate diet for someone working in the service industry?

@28 and @41 - Certainly there should be incentive to work hard and ... study, delay gratification, or whatever it is you seem to think those who struggle aren't doing, haven't done, etc. But just as a "for instance," the city is where the arts live. It's the great paradox of the artist--the lowest-paying field requires either residence in the most expensive areas or a commute that quickly eats up any savings. A lot of people in those service jobs we're talking about are probably pursuing something else for which they have a lot of expensive training (or, conversely, some hard-won wisdom and experience; often a little of both) but which comes attached to no reliable income stream.

We can't legislate or engineer our way out of that struggle, and I wouldn't suggest we could. But the notion that these folks should simply have picked something more "practical" presumes that what you do isn't completely made up to fulfill an engineered desire. Apologies if you're a farmer, doctor, or sanitation worker, but if you're anything else, your job was made up from whole cloth; it serves no material need, and is no more "practical," in the reptilian sense, than contemporary decoupage.

That said, there's reasonable concern that the folks really getting the shaft are the ones in the first tier or two over the minimum wage. What about the receptionist currently making $12.50/hr.? I'm sure he or she will be initially appreciative to get a bump to $15, but how long will his/her increased buying power last if the burger flipper down the road is making the same thing? How do we keep those who aren't making minimum wage, but who also aren't making $15/hr., from becoming minimum wage workers by default? These jobs, in my experience, are the ones held by people who are reasonably competent in the general sense (and can thus be reasonably and reliably competent at whatever slightly-higher-than-entry-level job they happen to hold) but who are either reserving their energy for other pursuits or are most interested in cultivating self and perceptions. I worry that these are the people who will lose what little access they currently enjoy to even a lower middle-class lifestyle in an urban environment.

Additionally for @41 - I realize that the idea of an aesthetically and spiritually fulfilling life has no meaning for you; you're welcome to die rich, fat, impotent, and unknown in your smug certainty that your cold and useless pursuits won you that wealth and power you consider the pinnacle achievement of this flatworm with thumbs we call man. The presumption that some of us, even while knowing that man is no more objectively important an organism than a virus--value not existing in nature, after all--would hope for more and strive to imbue existence with something resembling purpose is at the heart of my take on the matter. I can no more leave that presumption aside in my analysis than I can force you to adopt it for yours.
I eat very well on my $200.00 a month food stamp allowance.... Just sayin'..... Ya gotta actually know how to buy food to begin with... Knowing how to cook is also a bonus....can't do it on Pop Tarts and frozen pizzas...;-D
@50 Yes, our economy would be awesome if everyone was an accountant.
@50 - Yes, because artists = hipsters.

I'm not suggesting that the needs of people who actually produce something that make us (if only temporarily) something other than chattering organisms destined for eventual distinction should dominate the discussion, but cities are, and always have been, cultural hubs. The people who make culture should be able to afford to live where culture and its markers are made and exchanged.

Accounting is an interesting example, because it's a fallacy. Money is no more extant than drama (and arguably less so). You count beans arbitrarily assigned fictional values to create a false basis for exchange. Why that may or may not be better than barter or horticulture or hunting and gathering might make for an interesting discussion. But the point is that theatricians and bean counters are both maintaining systems by which we allow ourselves to function. What you offer helps impotent, fat, rich people know how much money they have in the bank; what I provide makes existing a more enticing choice than suicide.

Frankly, though, this is just a distraction--the mechanisms of whether you and I will ever agree on the value of our respective pursuits or the demonstrable meaninglessness of your paltry existence is a matter for another discussion. What interests me is that people who have managed to work past the minimum wage mark aren't really being considered in the discussion. Whatever their reasons for being there, I'm interested ensuring that, say, the second through fourth rungs of the ladder still represent steps up, even as we find ways to get those on the bottom rung more buying power.

That is, what about those who aren't, or shouldn't be, "poor"--those who are working full time beyond the minimum wage. Oughtn't wages in ANY geographic area reflect the cost of living in that area?
@51 - This cat has never stopped to wonder what he'd be counting if everyone counted beans for a living. Never mind what anyone would bother to do with their hard-earned beans (assuming someone would still grow the damn things!) if no one took it upon themselves to offer them goods, services, arts, architecture, and so on.

I was actually naive enough, at one time, to believe this sort of sexless, soulless sycophant was wholly a Hollywood invention.
And here's what happens to cost of living when you jump to $15 per hour quickly - cost of living rises by 20-50%…
A fair number of actors and poets (who are working just as hard, and offering just as much of material utility, as any accountant or computer programmer) actually work as accountants, nurses, or computer programmers, or data entry technicians, receptionists, tour guides, paralegals, and so on. Many of them are not, however, making more than $12 or $13 an hour for it, which is kind of the point. They're doing jobs--not minimum wage jobs; jobs of which even a bourgeois worm like you should be able to approve--that should at least enable them to live in the cities where they work.

Considering that Australia basically just sidestepped the recession, I'll take some of that, thanks. And, yes, just like in Scandinavia, living in a first world country is expensive.


Your "approach" to the economy has fucked this country for the past 30 years.
@ 44 FTW.

Here's my story: I've been working a good union job for the past 16 years, I'm now at the top of my wage scale at about $22/hour. AND THAT MEANS that my income qualifies me for subsidized housing in the city of Seattle.

My commute used to be 3 hours a day, 90 minutes into the city, and 90 minutes out, from White Center to Cap. Hill. So a little over 2 yrs ago, I thought 'heck, I'll move closer to work.' EVEN WITH SUBSIDIZATION, I still pay nearly half my monthly income in rent, which has gone up once since I moved into my tiny studio (not an apodment). Yes, I made that choice in order to regain some of the time lost in commuting, but clearly I can't continue to --gasp-- live near where I work, it's untenable. It is now untenable for a person who makes $22/hour to live in Seattle. THAT is the reality.

I know that it's only a matter of time until I'm forced back out of the city but I will never be at peace with the trends in housing that are occurring. We need more truly affordable units and rent control in Seattle and we need it NOW. Unfortunately for me, I know it won't come soon enough.

Silly me, all I did was maintain a stable work and rental history for 16+ years - where the HELL do I get off thinking I can live in this town? I don't even have an IT degree!!!

How the hell are you going to live in a house with enough room for 4 people for $944 rent AND utilities?!? Was this calculated for Spokane or something?
@43 - I'm sorry but if you're a white collar professional 10 years in and only making 35k, you're doing something wrong. 10 years ago my first post-college slacker job teaching English in Japan paid around 30k. My first "real" job in the US a year later paid over 50k starting - and that's with a liberal arts degree from a state school. Most of my friends here came from similar not-especially-privileged middle-class backgrounds and are doing quite well for themselves. Time to re-evaluate your career path, unless you're content with that 35k.

There are below market rate apartments that can be had in Seattle for less than what you're paying. Maybe not so much on Capitol Hill, but in neighborhoods that are at least closer than White Center.

Honestly, you're getting seriously ripped off especially since you're apparently living in a "subsidized" unit. (And this is a clear-cut illustration of how useless Seattle's 80 percent of median housing assistance is.) My boyfriend and I paid about as much as you for a two bedroom in Ballard, and Ballard ain't cheap.
$2.22 per meal. I mean, it's possible, but it's really shitty. You're probably not getting enough fruits or veggies, or you're getting only fruits and veggies. What sucks is if you're just outside the range of food stamps. You make too much money to get the poor people services, but not enough money to spend on yourself. Shitty as fuck.
@43: Just because your pay sucks doesn't mean you can extrapolate that to everyone. My son makes over $50k right out of college in human resources (not exactly a high-paying, glamorous job). His college friends all make more than you make, right out of college.
This is really depressing. Makes me feel like I will never not be poor. My rent is over half of what I make a month. I worked hard for ten years in the restaurant industry at notable restaurants to 'dare' to ask for $16 an hour and for cooks/kitchen managers, thats a great wage! Now people who are just starting work are getting above that. Ok.. so if that happens, do those who have been working hard to barely make that begin to make $20/hour? $30? A lot of places will lay people off. What about salaried employees? Do their wages change? I am afraid there will be no more room for advancement in smaller businesses if every person that walks through the door gets paid at least $16. I want it, dont get me wrong! I am just afraid of the outcome: closing businesses, no advancement, etc.
The childcare costs are similarly laughable. $250/month for childcare for two? Try multiplying that by at least ten. Conservatives love families, they just think parents should live in an economy that forces them to be away from their children 10-12 hours a day and unable to afford quality care for them.
These numbers are of course for WA state as a whole, and not Capitol Hill. If you're not living and working in downtown Seattle, you can find a place this cheap and probably pay about this much for owning and using a car.

To reach $620, consider:
$280 car payment ($13K cheap new or average used car)
$120 gas (avg 20mi commute plus weekend driving = 1000mi/month, 25mpg at $3/gal)
$100 insurance

Assuming you don't use the leftover $120 for parking or take a ferry or toll bridge, this leaves you with 1440/year for maintenance and repairs, replacement tires etc. It's easy to blow through this budget with just one or two expensive items. A cheaper car will require more expensive maintenance, and/or needs to be replaced more often. (My most expensive car to own cost $2800 and lasted three months... sigh.)
@28/@43: My entry-level, out of college wage (in a technical, specialized field) in 2000 was $13.66/hour. I've managed to bring that up to $21/hr over the last 13 years, continuing to work in the same field. I was working for a long time before I saw anything north of $35k annually. I suspect there's a great degree of variation in what entry-level pays for various fields. A software engineer, for example, probably would start above $40k/year. We can't all be software engineers, though.
If they keep raising the minimum wage then we are going to keep having this problem. this is because by raising minimum wage you are also raising the cost of running a company, which in return raises the selling price of goods and services. This all leads to the rice in cost of living in which we will be in an endless cycle of raising the minimum wage. Dealing needing to make more money you need to look at a career that you can move up in, not just this McDonald job or this customer service job that will only leave you manager status. there are plenty of high paying jobs, you just need to get off your butt, work hard in life and find them. We need to go back to the "old" America where people actually worked hard and did not think that debt was always a simple solution. Now I am not saying that debt in particular is bad, in fact if you are using it as a tool to further yourself it can be good, like college. But if you are discounting the future and saying that a new flat screen tv that will go out of style in two years is going to be worth it by having to pay it off for the next four years then, no it is not. When making investments like such you need to see if it is a "need" or a "want". If it is a want then save up for it and we'll see if you really want it later when you have the funding. If it is a need then you will have to weigh the costs and benefits and see make an educated decision on what to do, not this I see and buy stuff. people who complain about not getting paid enough, for the most part, do not deserve to be paid more. If you think that you deserve more, then earn it. Tom Brady didn't just think that he should be one of the best quarterbacks of all time and get paid a ton, no he has earned every penny of his salary and recognition through hard work and working smart. And for the most of his life I would go as far as he rarely took hand outs, unless needed. So people be smart and quit wasting your time and my time with your complaints and actually do something that with worth getting paid more.
@10 My car payment+insurance is $560/month. That's before I put gas in it, park it or use any alternate form of transportation. My car is fairly modest, so I am sure there are many who pay much more than $620/month.

Before the car payment, I used the bus, zip car and cheap car primarily to get around. That bill was $400 - $500/month depending on how much I used the zip car -- with gas, parking and insurance included. And this budget does not include the cost of repairs that were inevitable with my beater car.

But you are correct in that it is possible to get around for far less, but that could be at the expense of time and might not be feasible depending on the sort of life you live.
@69: Good point. I get around great with my feet, occasionally using the bus and zipcar/car2go. I don't, however, work terribly far from home (<2 miles) and I don't have kids. Folks with kids can get around pretty well without a car in some cities, but not Seattle.

Perhaps, but there are also many people who make do with far less. I doubt most people making $16/hour or less are buying cars new and then paying a few to several hundred dollars a month on a car payment.

I just find these metrics to be a little unrealistic for many reasons. A low-ish income, single, childless person isn't likely to spend $600/month on transportation, but they are probably going to spend a hell of a lot more on housing.

This is why I think it makes more sense to parse out these kinds of incomes according to what financial "experts" say you're supposed to be spending (30 percent on housing, 10 percent on savings) and then compare those amounts to how much stuff actually costs.
I feel that one point is missing from this whole conversation. Those that are working minimum wage, 'burger flipping' jobs are doing a lot more than even ten years ago. There are three part time workers to do what five full time workers used to do. Think about that. At some point, 'unskilled' becomes a way of disqualifying those that are doing more work than they are actually getting paid to do. The job requirements/standards have not changed, just the amount of time and staff you have within which to do it. It takes a certain level of skill to do the achieve this. Just saying.
"There are three part time workers to do what five full time workers used to do. "

I know you're too stupid to understand productivity gains and the role of technology, even in fast food, that allows fewer people to produce the same amount of value in a product. I mean, if we went back to 1900 technology, hell, we'd all have 4 jobs. And guess what, working at McD's is no harder today than it was when I did in 1983 making $3.35/hr ($7.86 in today's dollars).
Well I can tell you these numbers don't add up right.... Rent is about 1500 a month in a bad area, groceries are very expensive as well ( a gallon of milk goes for 3.50 to 6.00 ) Having transportation cost that exceed 2000 ( gas is 3.50 a gallon) Both my husband and I have good jobs, we also have 4 kids. we barely meet our bills each month and have cut extreme corners to survive. We drive cars that are 20 years old (cannot afford a car payment or the taxes to by a used "newer" car. We do have health ins. as part of my husbands 13 year tenure with his job. But Utilities run on average about 500 a month. more in winter. So a living wage would be nice because between both of us we make about 28 a hour and cannot even take a day off or it blows our whole budget.... We do live right outside of Seattle.
How about a throwback to Herbert Hoover's administration when people lived in Shanty-Towns and worked for peanuts? We're nearly there...
I am a nursing assistant for 25 years. I do not even make this at the lowest level that is suggested. My costs for health care, ins, and rent is much higher than what is listed here. Where did they get these numbers?
@74 ever think of using condoms?

Btw, gallon of milk at Costco is $3.20 this week. Who pays $6 a gallon? Yuppies at Whole Foods?
Btw if you're living on your wage, you have a living wage. Maybe no vacations to Maui but you know what? Tough shit.
@74 btw when burger flippers can make $15/hr, how much higher will rents go when a couple of then shack up and feel flush with the extra cash? And when inflation takes off for rent, will you simply impose price controls? Can we be the next Caracas on the Sound?
where are you paying $944 total for rent and utilities for a 3 bedroom apartment? and as for the last line in the article. so it's broken so is the record of how the system is as well. what is kshama going to do about it? she's a local council person who actually makes the wage listed, but it's fine to spread socialism making more than educators and last round draft picked athletes. and she has no national backing let alone more than she needs on the state level to get support, she's an expensive waste of space.
@3, you'd be surprised how much people spend on holiday gifts. In my years in retail, I saw my share of people who would spend over $500 in a single store on gifts. It was nice for me when I snagged those folks (while I never worked directly on commission, every place I worked gave some kind of sales bonus, and single sales over $500 would score you something nice), but it also kind of blew my mind. Add to that large families (a friend of mine has 3 kids and 7 nieces/nephews to buy for) and the overly-generous (my brother and SIL easily spend over $1K on themselves and their two kids for Christmas) and $700-odd dollars as an average doesn't sound so extreme. Sure, I can knock out my lists for a whole lot less, but I also just buy for a handful of kids and family and generally give home-made cookies to friends.

And, more clarity to what others have said: a low minimum wage sets a low bar to compare other careers to, and screws everyone. $13 or $15/hour sounds really robust compared to $7 or $8/hour, but it's really peanuts. The 1963 (national) average factory wage in today's dollars would be $18.50 - and that's for low-skill manual labor. That I know plenty of higher-skilled workers (with AAs, BAs or tech certificates) who make less than that really speaks to the problem. Our IT support, a position for which a BS is required, starts people at $16/hour, and then works them so hard that they quit before they're eligible for any (modest) raises. (yes, this also causes serious continuity problems where it's hard to solve on-going problems or even find someone who knows our systems well enough to solve problems efficiently) But they make more than they could without that education! Erm - sure...and they *still* can't afford to live.
@2, you nailed it.

The solution is DENSITY.
Poor little snowflakes. After years of schooling being taught they're special little snowflakes who all get a gold star, you hit reality, aka the labor market, and discover your real worth.
Let me start by saying that the income that my husband and I receive is so low compared to their average. I have been looking for a place for us to move to/out of a friends house. I haven't found anything less than $850/mo and that's living in Snohomish County. My husband works in Ballard so that would increase our traveling expense, plus I am in school. Nothing that this study said is correct except that you need a higher wage to live.

An email I sent today to my legislators:

Seattlites are fortunate that we were less affected by the recession than most cities. However, housing prices and rents are rising faster here than ANYWHERE else in the country. If action is not taken quickly to allow Seattle to impose rent control, we will lose our recent growth in web and startup businesses. Wages will rise to keep up with rents. Prices per square foot will quadruple in record time. And higher wages will drive companies out.

I have seen this happen with the banks in San Francisco. Bank of America and Wells Fargo moved out. So did the other large companies. The only companies left in town were the law firms. Rents then went down with recessions, and came back as dot-coms and web startups increased.

But today 6 people, share-renting a 2-bedroom apartment, is nobody's idea of dignity. You have professionals living in closets and living rooms.

Even though new Seattle apartment units are coming available, due to a building boom several years in the planning, they will soon fill up with those paying extremely high rents. And single family dwelling prices are already going through the roof, including rents on these SFD's. Seattle real estate prices have definitely recovered from the recession, and then some.

Before the situation gets out of hand, placing extreme pressure on wages and on people, I plead with you to introduce a bill removing the current state prohibition of rent control in Washington State, RCW 35.21.830. We must act now or see a situation where Seattle turns into San Francisco. And we wouldn't want that, would we?
So say you make $15 or $16 now and the $15 min passes; do you think your employer is going to bump your pay up proportionally? You can kiss your future raises goodbye because the money to pay the minimum will have to come from somewhere and it ain't coming from the CEO's and executives pockets, I can promise you that. As usual, those in the middle will be the ones getting screwed.
Just want to add that I am a proponent of a tax on high earners and for incentives to provide living wages and health insurance.
$15 across the board minimum is the wrong answer though and will be used to fuck over more people.
The great thing about the US and one of its few true freedoms is that you can vote with your feet. i know that on my salary i can't live in beverly hills. nothing entitles me to live near where i work. There are many places which aren't metro cities which you can live on minimum wage. those who believe this can move and live together.

money is a vote too. society pays more money for what it values not necessarily what is deserved. food workers and janitors do great things for society yet we don't vote with money to value it

if we raise minimum wage it is silly to think that prices won't raise. capitalism will get that money. spending your vote money wisely is how to improve the world.
@88 maybe for some. It's not the boat I'm in though.
So I have skimmed throught this and I find one thing interesting I have yet to read a comment that explains that by raising minimum wage is truly a sign of the weaking of the USD this trend will continue untell some one starts handling the economy correctly as each market has become unregulated the cost goes up the dollar is worth less and what was a live able wage befor no longer can support the family it used to so how do you stop this "Force prices down" make the dollar worth more then it is now regulate the price of gas, electric, and the housing market(who really can afford a $500k house). We would see a huge swing in the living wage
There is something wrong with those amounts, you can't live inside Seattle as a single for $16.04/hr Utilities alone can be $700 a month. I think you went a found the cheapest city you could to come up with these numbers.
Yes, indeed these are conservative estimates. When you consider that rent alone for a household for any number of family members is running $1,500 a month, the numbers ascribed to rent/house payment and utilities is more than half what it REALLY takes. How about a study for Seattle alone to see how our prices have risen so high as to drive people out of the city they grew up in?
Ok...$944 for housing AND utilities is ridiculous.... We area household of 5 with one income and there's no where to rent for that alone let alone utilities as well..... Try $1200/mo for rent (and that's on cheaper side) $150-$300 /power. ...$140/2 mos for water... And that's not including garbage and phone.... These numbers are average for the state as whole including Eastern which is substantially cheaper...
okay I've been reading through the comments and that someone who lives in Spokane I have to say if you can't afford to live there you need to relocate not everything has to be in Seattle. We have a two adult 1 child household both adults working which I noticed they don't have on this chart, and we have a four bedroom two bathroom full yard +driveway property with an inlaw set up with a $902 mortgage payment which includes our property taxes and insurance. We have utilities at approximately 300 a month $150 car payment a month $85.00 childcare 3 days a week per month admittedly that is in the mornings only. as a household we make approximately 41, 000/year. Approximately 3440/take home wages. Monthly bills roughly total $2600, this includes gas, groceries, school lunches, internet/2 smartphones, car insurance, pay down debt and of course misc. Such as smokes, redbull eating out random for fun stuff etc. hi suppose that the long and short of what I'm saying is that it is very doable for a minimal amount per month to live and live well just based off location. If you can't afford to live where you live I know that it seems impossible to relocate but sometimes that's just what you have to do you have to go where it's affordable. We could never afford to live in Seattle as well as we do on what we make. The good thing for us we can drive over once every couple of months to see family. Neither of us could want to ever live over there too many people.
#93 I live in Seattle as a single parent and did ok making $16/hour. Not great, but ok. Who pays $700 a month for utilities? Mine are never more than $250. I pay $1,000 rent for an 1,100 sf 2br/2ba apt in Magnolia.
And yet a chronically ill senior making 1600 a month and on medicare, can't get any help with vision, dental, food or hundreds in uncovered medical and pharmacy costs here in Washington. Not even the ACA provides help.
@60, You got a job paying upwards of 50k 1 year after college with a BA in liberal arts? I think you are either really lucky, or not telling the truth.

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