The Columbian newspaper of Vancouver, WA recently editorialized that Initiative 1433 to raise the minimum wage to $13.50/hour over four years is going “too far”. Apparently they think that the annual inflation adjustment coming next year is enough… even though it would only the statewide minimum wage 6 cents, from $9.47/hour to $9.53.
Hardly seems like enough to pay the rent.
But we decided to check.
A pay rate of $9.53/hour adds up to $19,822 a year for a full-time worker, or a little more than $1650 a month. Housing is considered affordable if it takes up no more than a third of your income, which means that $550/month is the rent budget for a full-time worker being paid the Washington state minimum wage if we don't pass Initiative 1433. (Some people say the cut-off should be 30% not 33%, but we decided to be "generous".)
Everyone knows that’s not enough to pay the rent in Seattle, but some self-proclaimed experts like to say that the rest of the state is soooooo much cheaper than actually you’re doing pretty well on minimum wage.
As of 10/5/2016, this is what you'd have to choose from on $9.53/hour:
- Six RV spaces (RVs not included, of course). One of them isn’t even currently available, they just figure somebody might leave soon.
- One person looking for an RV space
- Three apartments in Longview.
- Two apartments in the same building in Kelso, plus one more in Kelso
- A $73/night motel. (You could afford 7 nights on $550/month.)
- A self-storage unit
- A scam listing
- And one room in someone else’s apartment
And that’s it.
That’s a grand total of 7 apartments which a full-time worker paid minimum wage can afford which are currently for rent on Craiglist in all of Clark County.
There are 730,000 people in Washington State who are paid less than $13.50/hour.
But according to Clark County’s newspaper, raising the minimum wage more than 6¢ next year is going “too far”?
(BTW, a full-time worker paid $13.50/hour could afford $780/month in rent — which greatly expands the housing options available.)