What You Actually Need To Earn To Get By in Every State


Earning a living continues to be a struggle for many Americans — especially in the economy affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this article, I’ll take a look at the latest information from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Living Wage Calculator.

How Much Do You Need To Earn a Living Wage in Your State?

MIT’s calculator estimates the cost of living in communities across the country.

The tool takes into account the basic needs of individuals and families based on multiple expenses including:

  • Food
  • Child Care
  • Medical
  • Housing
  • Transportation

What Is a Living Wage?

The term “living wage,” refers to the minimum annual income an individual or household needs to earn to be exempt from federal programs for the needy. The threshold is based on data from the U.S. government’s poverty guidelines.

But the Living Wage Calculator includes some factors generally not considered by the government such as child care and other expenditures based on specific geographic data.

Let’s take a look at what you need to earn annually, before taxes, in each state based on the Living Wage Calculator.

Living Wages for Each State in 2021

Want to take a deep dive into living wage data? Click on your county or city to see hourly and annual wages, as well as typical expenses, where you live.

For example, when you click on Georgia, you can scroll down to the “Metropolitan Statistical Areas.” There you’ll find the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell metro area. If you click there and scroll down, you can see more information, including typical annual salaries, for various occupations in the area.

You can use this information to help determine if you’re making a livable wage or even to inform your job search.


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