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What you can rent on a minimum wage salary in every state

GOBankingRates Logo By John Csiszar of GOBankingRates | Slide 1 of 52: In 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act into law, which introduced the minimum wage at 25 cents per hour. While always controversial, the issue has become a political hot button in recent years, as various sides argue over whether or not people can truly live on the minimum wage. 
To cut through all the noise, GOBankingRates conducted a study to analyze just how much money minimum wage earners make on a state-by-state basis, and how much square footage a person can afford to rent while earning the minimum wage, using data from the U.S. Department of Labor and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Overall, the results of the study are eye-opening. The minimum wage doesn’t amount to a living wage in any state in America — it’s actually insufficient to meet basic human needs. Allocating a minimum wage salary to recommended spending percentages on necessities such as housing, groceries, transportation and utilities leaves earners with a deficit in all 50 states. 
Additionally, the highest annual income that you can earn on the minimum wage is $24,960, in Massachusetts and Washington. This amounts to about half of the average income in the U.S. In a whopping 21 states, you’ll only earn about $15,000 per year on the minimum wage — which allows for less than $80 per month for groceries. 
The square footage afforded to the average American earning the minimum wage is also abysmal, although the housing situation is slightly better in some states than others. In the top-ranked state in GOBankingRates’ study, for example, nearly 311 square feet is available for a minimum wage earner. By the time you get to the state that’s ranked last, however, minimum wage earners can only rent 110 square feet of living space, even on a relatively high minimum wage.
Translated to real-world experience, it is clear from the study that it’s a serious struggle to survive in the U.S. while only earning the minimum wage. Yet, plenty of Americans are forced to do just that, so it’s important to implement coping strategies in any way possible. Some of these options are discussed after the state-by-state breakdown of the study results, which could help minimum wage earners find additional ways to save money on monthly expenses and bills.
Last updated: Oct. 8, 2019

What you can rent on a minimum wage salary in every state

In 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act into law, which introduced the minimum wage at 25 cents per hour. While always controversial, the issue has become a political hot button in recent years, as various sides argue over whether or not people can truly live on the minimum wage.

To cut through all the noise, GOBankingRates conducted a study to analyze just how much money minimum wage earners make on a state-by-state basis, and how much square footage a person can afford to rent while earning the minimum wage, using data from the U.S. Department of Labor and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Overall, the results of the study are eye-opening. The minimum wage doesn’t amount to a living wage in any state in America — it’s actually insufficient to meet basic human needs. Allocating a minimum wage salary to recommended spending percentages on necessities such as housing, groceries, transportation and utilities leaves earners with a deficit in all 50 states.

Additionally, the highest annual income that you can earn on the minimum wage is $24,960, in Massachusetts and Washington. This amounts to about half of the average income in the U.S. In a whopping 21 states, you’ll only earn about $15,000 per year on the minimum wage — which allows for less than $80 per month for groceries.

The square footage afforded to the average American earning the minimum wage is also abysmal, although the housing situation is slightly better in some states than others. In the top-ranked state in GOBankingRates’ study, for example, nearly 311 square feet is available for a minimum wage earner. By the time you get to the state that’s ranked last, however, minimum wage earners can only rent 110 square feet of living space, even on a relatively high minimum wage.

Translated to real-world experience, it is clear from the study that it’s a serious struggle to survive in the U.S. while only earning the minimum wage. Yet, plenty of Americans are forced to do just that, so it’s important to implement coping strategies in any way possible. Some of these options are discussed after the state-by-state breakdown of the study results, which could help minimum wage earners find additional ways to save money on monthly expenses and bills. Click or swipe through to see the full list.

Last updated: Oct. 8, 2019

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