The new calculator “estimates the income a family needs to secure a safe and decent — yet modest — living standard in the community in which the family resides. The calculator takes into account the cost of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, other necessities and taxes for families. The calculator does not include savings for retirement, for a rainy day or for college.”
You can see that for all family types except a single individual with no kids, the least amount of hourly income needed is around $15 per hour or more anywhere in the state, including rural Oregon. For example, a single mother needs to earn at least $21.51 per hour to afford only the very basic necessities, and this is the case even in rural Oregon, not just in Portland. In families with two parent and two children–assuming both parents work 40 hours per week–each parent needs to earn at least $14.54-$16.30 per hour just in order to scrape by and afford only the very basic necessities. If that same two parent family has only one income because one parent is in school, for example, then the one working parent needs to earn $29-$33 per hour in order to take care of their family here in Oregon.
Something to take special note of is that the calculator doesn’t include enough income to be able to save for the future or for emergencies. It also doesn’t include any income to make payments on the large amount of student loans or credit debt that many families have. These omissions are important because if included, the amount of income needed by each family type would increase considerably. If a single person has a monthly debt payment of $300, then her estimated needed income goes up by $3,600 per year. Suddenly this single individual with no children, even if she lives in rural Oregon, needs at least $14.18-$16.26 per hour in order to pay her bills.
The conclusion to be drawn from the new Basic Family Budget Calculator is that a $15 minimum wage is the right number for Oregon. While there are small subsets of family demographics that could potentially scrape by on slightly less (of course only if we don’t take savings or debt payments into account), it is clear that anything less than $15 will leave too many Oregonians and their families behind, continuing to struggle to make ends meet, and continuing to need to rely on public assistance in order to survive despite getting up and going to work for 8 hours everyday. No one who works should live in poverty, and 15 Now Oregon is dedicated to fighting for a minimum wage that works for all Oregonians, not just some Oregonians.