If you’re leaving prison and haven’t been in the workforce for a while, if ever, you might want to turn to the Living Wage Calculator, created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
It can help you find the answers to a few questions you’ll need to ask yourself as you look for a job:
- How much money do I estimate it will take to live a basic life?
- What is the hourly wage I will need to make in the area where I plan to be living?
This information is important to know to make sure you’ll make enough money to live a basic life and/or to consider what type of work to prepare for. Certainly the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour may not be enough.
Even life in cities like San Francisco – which raised its minimum wage to $13 per hour on July 1, 2016, and will raise it again to $14 per hour on July 1, 2017 – can be a struggle for those in jobs that don’t pay more than that.
The minimum wage may not be enough to live on
In many – or most – cases the minimum wage – even that of the few states and cities that have decent ones – won’t meet the needs of most people, so it’s a number you may want to ignore.
Calculating the living wage, however, is very useful. It will let you know the amount of money you need to survive in a specific area of the country. The living wage is the minimum amount of money that people require to meet their basic needs. And the MIT Living Wage Calculator is a very useful online tool that can be utilized to calculate that number.
The Living Wage Calculator determines the living wage for 13 situations ranging from 1 working adult to 2 adults (1 working) and 2 adults with 3 children.
It also includes a list of typical expenses: food, childcare, medical, housing and transportation, as well as the required annual income before taxes, so people will know how much they will need to earn.
For example, a single working adult in Alameda County, Calif., which includes Oakland and Berkeley, will need a required annual income before taxes of $33,116. In St. Louis that figure is $21,702, and in Atlanta it’s $24,988.
A third chart for each location lists the typical annual salaries for a wide variety of jobs in that area.
The website is searchable by state and then county. Using this calculator, along with the other resources you discover as you look for employment, will help you ensure that you get a job that is not only something you find acceptable but will also pay the expenses necessary for a basic lifestyle for wherever you will be living.
$10-$20 can make a difference and provide funding to send job search books to prison and jail libraries and expand our tattoo removal outreach.