Any business that considers itself responsible and sustainable must pay its employees a living wage. Not a minimum wage – a living wage.

In many American communities, families working in low-wage jobs make insufficient income to live locally given the local cost of living. Recently, in a number of high-cost communities, community organizers and citizens have successfully argued that the prevailing wage offered by the public sector and key businesses should reflect a wage rate required to meet minimum standards of living.

Dr. Amy K. Glasmeier who holds a Ph.D. in city and regional planning from the University of California-Berkeley and is the director of the Center on Trade, Technology, and Economic Growth, Institute for Policy Research and Evaluation at Pennsylvania State University developed a living wage calculator to estimate the cost of living in your community or region.

The calculator lists typical expenses, the living wage and typical wages for the selected location.

The tool is designed to provide a minimum estimate of the cost of living for low-wage families.

The estimates do not reflect a middle class standard of living. The realism of the estimates depend on the type of community under study. Metropolitan counties are typically locations of high cost. In such cases, the calculator is likely to underestimate costs such as housing and childcare.

To find out what those in your community should be earning, or paying visit

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