Bringing the Economy Home

Bottom Rung: Expenses Are Tough To Pay On Idaho’s $7.25 Minimum Wage

One in 13 hourly workers in Idaho earned minimum wage last year. That’s $7.25 an hour.The share of Idaho workers making minimum wage has increased from 5 percent in 2011 to 7.7 percent of the hourly workforce in 2012.

That bump means Idaho has a larger share of minimum wage workers than any other state in the country.


This is the jumping off point for a series we’re calling Bottom Rung. For the next couple of weeks, we’ll explore why the number of workers earning minimum wage has increased so rapidly, how Idaho’s status as a low-wage state is impacting the workforce, and what’s being done to reverse the trend.

In this infographic, we look at how a minimum-wage income stacks up against typical household expenses. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ figures aren’t a perfect representation of how much it costs to live in Idaho. The survey data is broken down by a few western regional centers. Boise isn’t one of them, so the numbers are a regional average. That’s as specific as the agency gets. There is some Idaho-specific data available through the Council for Community and Economic Research, but that information is skewed to represent the wealthiest households.

And consider the infographic only includes basic costs. It doesn’t include the cost of healthcare, education, car insurance, car payments, cell phone, internet, clothes, personal care items or savings. The housing cost visualized is based on paying rent, not a mortgage.

Still, if a 2.6 person household has one wage-earner making $7.25 an hour, it’s easy to see there is more money going out the door than coming in.

We want to know where you fall on this chart. Are you among the minimum, average or above average? How are you getting by?


  • I don’t see a chart… just extra white space after the second paragraph.

    • Niki, what browser are you using? This likely isn’t visible in Explorer. If you’re using Firefox, try CTRL + F5 to refresh!

  • I am fortunate to be working for a more than fair employer, but it wasn’t always the case. There was a time I was working two jobs (50 hrs/wk), my total bills were less than $600/mo and I was living on baked potatoes and Top Ramen because it was all I could afford. During this time, my lack of income led me to take out student loans and credit cards which I couldn’t make payments on and now have an utterly ruined credit score and I’m still paying the consequences nearly 10 years later.

  • Brian Carson

    Butch Otter and the die-hard old-guard republicans should be run out on a rail. Over the past 5 years, the entire country has experienced a great economic recovery. Idaho, on the other hand, has largely not participated in the rally because of the state’s backwoods politics. The fact of the matter is that things in this state will continue to get worse so long as we keep the backbiting good-old boys in charge.

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