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?


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