The paycheck of a minimum-wage worker in Spokane stretches farther than a similar worker in more than 150 of the nation’s largest cities, a new study by a financial technology company says.
Only minimum-wage workers in Kennewick and in Kalamazoo, Michigan, get more bang for their paycheck bucks, SmartAsset says. All three have relatively low living costs.
Spokane actually dropped from second to third compared to 2015’s rankings, but that’s because Michigan raised its minimum wage to $8.50 from $8.15 over that period.
“Though winters in Spokane can be gloomy, the city has a lot going for it,” authors of the study wrote. That’s a reference to an earlier SmartAsset study on “Cities with the Most Depressing Winters” in which Spokane ranked fourth, behind Anchorage, Seattle and Portland.
Washington’s relatively high minimum wage of $9.47 an hour is a major factor in placing three cities in the top 10. An even higher mandated minimum wage in Tacoma of $10.35 helps moderate the high living costs in that Puget Sound city.
Seattle’s minimum wage is $12 an hour, but adjusting for that city’s high cost of living, it’s worth about $8.55 an hour, the study concludes.
AJ Smith, vice president of content at SmartAsset, said the study is one tool for workers to use when considering relocating for a job. The cost of goods, services, shelter and utilities differ from city to city, just as wages do.
“Raising the minimum wage in cities and states has been a hot topic lately,” Smith said. “We wanted to look at what does that mean in those areas.”
For the study of what it calls “The Real Minimum Wage,” SmartAsset obtained cost-of-living data on 161 cities from a separate research organization, the Council for Community and Economic Research. Because the council relies on self-reporting by cities, and not all do, the SmartAsset survey has some noticeable gaps, with no figures for cities in Idaho, Montana, South Dakota or New Mexico.
None of the cities in the Top 10, and just two of the first 25, have the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. But mandating a wage higher than the federal law requires didn’t guarantee a high ranking. Six of the Bottom 10 had minimum wages higher than the federal standard, including Boston, where a $10 an hour minimum wage equals $6.93, and Honolulu, where the state-required $8.50 adjusts to just $4.52 when that city’s high cost of living is factored in.
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