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Row of Houses

About Fight For A Living Wage

LIVING WAGE: A living wage is a level of income that provides adequate coverage for basic necessities - Food, Shelter, Medicine, Childcare, and Education and the ability to Save. The living wage standard allows for no more than 30% to be spent on rent or a mortgage and is sufficiently higher than the poverty level. 

While a $15 minimum wage is significantly higher than the current Federal Minimum wage of $7.25 it does not provide an adequate income to sustain a living wage in most major metropolitan areas in the United States. (2023 poverty level for a single person is $14,580. Current Federal minimum wage for a full-time worker is just under $15,000 and just above the poverty level for a single person)

  • 75 percent of Americans say they would eat healthier if they could afford it.

  • Low-income Americans would have to spend 40 percent or more of their food budget on fruits and vegetables to meet U.S. recommended daily allowance.

  •  U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates 54.4 million Americans do not have access to healthy food.

  • 41.9 million Americans or 12.5 percent of U.S. population use food stamps.

  • 25 percent of Americans report being food insecure during a year.

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Food

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Shelter

  • 65 percent of Americans own/buy their homes while approximately  35 percent rent.

  • Median household wealth among homeowners is 3,965 percent  higher than renters. 

  • Homeowners average monthly costs are 16 percent higher than a renter but they are accumulating wealth as they build equity in their home.

  • Homeowners also get further benefits through tax deduction for mortgage interest while a renter gets zero deductions.

  • Higher home prices and now higher mortgage rates make the dream of home ownership a much harder reach for many Americans.

  • U.S. home ownership rate remains at the low end of developed countries.

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  • U.S. has the highest per capita spend on healthcare and highest spend as a percentage of GDP of any developed country.

  • While spending the most on healthcare we have the second lowest life expectancy and highest infant mortality rate of any developed nation.

  • The poorest fifth of Americans spend 18% of their household income on healthcare while the richest fifth spend 3 percent on healthcare.

  • 50% of personal bankruptcies in the U.S. are caused by a medical bill.

  • 75% of Americans filing bankruptcy due to a medical bill did have health insurance.

  • 50% of Americans say that they skip a test or recommended treatment by their Doctor as they can’t afford it.

  • 50% of Americans says a medical bill of $500 or more would put them into debt or bankruptcy.

  • U.S. highest rate of mental health diagnosis in adults of any developed country.

  • US highest reported rate of emotional distress over safety, food, and housing of any developed country.

  • Only around 50% of private/individual mental health providers (Therapists and Psychiatrist) take health insurance.

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Medicine

  • America is the worst of the developed countries in the world for the investment and support of early childhood development

  • The richest countries spend on average $14,000 per child on early childhood development while the U.S. spends $500.

  • U.S. only major developed country that does not provide or mandate parental leave.

  • Average cost of a full year of private childcare in the U.S. is $9,600.

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Childcare

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  • U.S. used to boast we had the best education system in the world. Current U.S. ranks are as follows:

    • 18th in reading

    • 36th in math

    • 22nd in science

  • Like healthcare U.S. spends more per capita on education than any other country while our scores and graduation rates are near the bottom.

  • Cost of an undergraduate degree in the U.S. is up 169 percent since1980.

  • Average teacher pay is 5th amongst the developed countries.

  • 1 in 4 teachers are thinking about quitting in the next 2 years.

  • 45 million or 2 percent of American’s carry an average of $38,000 in student loan debt.

  • Backlash against high school track learning in the ‘80s led to decreased investment in vocational training and the trades.

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Education

Savings

  • The average American saves 4.3% of their income.

  • Average return on a savings account 0.42%.

  • Lower income Americans often excluded from higher yielding investment vehicles due to minimum balance requirements.

  • Average rate of savings for major European countries is 15% versus 4.3% in U.S.

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