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$15 minimum wage permits few luxuries in US cities


SEATTLE (AP) - A $15 minimum wage like the one adopted in Seattle doesn't buy many luxuries in most American cities.

Lattes, theater tickets and cable television will still be out of reach for most minimum-wage workers. But about $31,000 a year should be enough to pay the average rent for a shared one-bedroom apartment, plus utilities, health insurance, groceries and an inexpensive cellphone plan.

Monday's vote by the Seattle City Council created the nation's highest minimum wage. The state minimum wage in Washington was already $9.32 an hour, the highest state wage in the U.S.

Expatistan, a website that tracks the cost of living in cities around the world, says New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Honolulu, Boston and Seattle are the most expensive U.S. cities overall, in that order.

An Associated Press comparison of the cost of living in several other major U.S. cities shows a higher wage would make a difference in those places too, but it won't allow for many extras.


SEATTLE (Minimum wage is currently $9.32):

RENT: A typical one-bedroom apartment goes for $1,400 a month.

GAS: A gallon of gas is $3.94.

TRANSPORTATION: A ride on the bus is $2.50.

MILK/COFFEE/OTHER: A gallon of milk averages about $3.60. A 16-ounce latte at Starbucks is $3.35, a pint of local beer $4.50.

Seattle's wage is set to begin climbing in April 2015, with many workers reaching $11 an hour next year. That will surpass San Francisco's minimum wage, which at $10.55 an hour is currently the highest of any American city.


NEW YORK CITY (Minimum wage is $8):

RENT: The median Manhattan rent is $3,420, according to a recent report.

GAS: A gallon of gas is $3.93.

TRANSPORTATION: A ride on the subway is $2.50. The average taxi fare is a bit over $15.

MILK/COFFEE/OTHER: A large coffee at Starbucks is about $2.45. A gallon of milk is just over $4. A foot-long sandwich at Subway is $6.90.

New York's minimum wage, which is set by the state, is slated to rise to $8.75 on Dec. 31 and then $9 at the end of next year. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has recently opened the door to let cities set their own minimum wage at 30 percent higher than the $10.10 proposed by President Barack Obama, which could mean a $13 wage in New York's future.


MIAMI (Minimum wage is $7.93):

RENT: The median rent in Miami is $2,329, according to Zillow.

COFFEE: A large coffee is about $3.

TRANSPORTATION: Regular gas in Miami costs about $3.50 a gallon, a basic bus ride $2.25. Cab fares are $2.50 for the first sixth of a mile and then 40 cents per sixth of a mile.

MILK/OTHER: About $4 a gallon for milk, and a quality sub is about $8.


CHICAGO (Minimum wage is $8.25):

RENT: The median rent price in Chicago is $1,550, according to Zillow.

GAS: A gallon of regular gasoline surpasses $4, behind only Los Angeles and San Francisco on a list of major cities.

TRANSPORTATION: A bus fare is $2. Rides on the El trains are $2.25.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has formed a task force to study the minimum-wage issue, and a group of City Council members have already proposed an ordinance to phase in a $15 wage. Chicago community activists and labor groups are pushing for the city to follow Seattle's lead. At the ballot box in March, Chicago voters backed a $15 minimum wage in an advisory referendum.


LOS ANGELES (Minimum wage is $8)

RENT: A one-bedroom apartment in City Center is $1,591, while a one-bedroom outside of downtown is $1,140, according to the Economic Roundtable.

MILK/OTHER: Milk is $3.96 a gallon. A one-pound loaf of white bread is $2.21.

TRANSPORTATION: A one-way public transit tickets costs $1.50.

GAS: $3.99 a gallon.

The minimum wage in Los Angeles and Los Angeles County is $8, the same as the state's. Like the state's, it will increase to $9 on July 1.

The city minimum wage has exceptions in Long Beach and in Los Angeles by the airport, where hotel workers get more, according to Dan Flaming, president of the Economic Roundtable.

The LA City Council is reviewing a proposal to raise the minimum wage for all hotel workers.

Meanwhile, the AFL-CIO effort has started an effort, still in its infancy, to increase the minimum wage for everyone to $15, Flaming said.


HOUSTON: (Minimum wage is $7.25).

RENT: Average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment is $1,144.

GAS: A gallon of gas is $3.67.

TRANSPORTATION: A ride on public transit is $1.25.

MILK/COFFEE/OTHER: A 20-ounce cup of drip coffee at Starbucks sells for $2.45. A gallon of Walmart-brand milk is $3.28.

Texas uses the federal minimum wage. An increase in Houston's minimum wage was considered in 1997, but the idea was opposed by business leaders and defeated in a referendum.

The cost of living in the city has remained fairly stable in recent years, but housing prices have felt the pressure of migration into Texas. The Greater Houston Partnership, the local chamber of commerce, quotes a study that says the city is the third-least expensive of the 20 most populous areas in the United States.


Associated Press writers Jonathan Lemire in New York, Terry Spencer in Miami, Jason Keyser in Chicago, Juan Carlos Llorca in Houston and Sue Manning in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

Join the discussion

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jshedl10411 June 03 2014 at 7:56 PM

I somehow keep missing something here. Do we begin advocating Marxism? Get off your dead Butt, go to school, graduate and begin seeking a higher paying position.

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51 replies
kympathy June 03 2014 at 11:06 PM

My sister is a nurse, she's worked for 10 years in her field, and she makes $17 an hour. That's just $2 an hour more than someone working at Wal-mart? Why go to school? This idea that EVERYONE SHOULD BE EQUAL kills ambition, kills, drive, and makes people wonder why they should even bother to try. Seriously...why go to school for a career when you make no more than a recent HS grad?

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50 replies
Fred June 03 2014 at 8:01 PM

An entry level job is just that! It was never intended for someone to rent and apartment or support a faamily. Entry level jobs are for students either living at home or to supplement college expense. Also people who are just getting out into the workplace for the first time and still living at home. If all states raise minimum wage to $15.00 or more, that will disrupt the whole work force and have ramafacations all the way up the line. Fred Gramcko

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9 replies
penrosecottage June 03 2014 at 8:07 PM

This week they want $15.00 per hour and next week they they will be out of a job because small places just can't afford that kind of money and keep there doors open, I won't pay $6.00 for a big Mac so they can't kiss their jobs good by.

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20 replies
Alan June 03 2014 at 7:53 PM

hahahahaha---kiss your Fast Food and Service Businesses goodbye Seattle. Stupid Libtards.

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19 replies
jcbstz June 03 2014 at 8:15 PM

Those dumb azz silly liberals really don'e get it. This pay raise will require EVERY THING to increase in price. Do you dumb azz liberals even think that the business world is going to absorb this hit???

Flag Reply +81 rate up
12 replies
tazridesaharley June 03 2014 at 8:27 PM

How much should you pay someone whose greatest acheivement for the day is that they got their shoes on the correct feet?It doesn't take much to say "you want fries with that?"Here comes the$15 burger.

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14 replies
tvcv15 June 03 2014 at 8:36 PM

confuse a liberal use facts and logic!!!

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3 replies
tvcv15 June 03 2014 at 8:38 PM

this is what you call obamanomics!!

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2 replies
jmaltus tvcv15 June 04 2014 at 11:23 AM

Actually, I think it is more like an Obama-nation.

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ladyshema tvcv15 June 04 2014 at 12:29 PM

yes the president is the reason for all problems

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Ken Catlett June 04 2014 at 9:30 AM

Let`s be candid at the risk of not being PC....Minimum wage if NOT for luxuries. If you want luxuries, put in the time, effort, sweat and sacrifice to obtain them, unless you happen to be born with the silver spoon implanted somewhere.
Those who have done this are tired of supporting those who are not willing to do so, and do not come back with some cannot as we should care for those who are unable, but NOT those who make CHOICES like not working, having more babies, being lazy, etc.
It is time to STOP the rewarding for bad behavior, period.

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1 reply
Mocs Ken Catlett June 04 2014 at 9:51 AM

And that's EXACTLY the problem. We live in a very materialistic society and I notice that the have-nots are the biggest contributors to that problem. People who don't have a pot to piss in have no problem pissing their entire paycheck away on a pair of sneakers. And I will never begin to understand why on earth someone making minimum wage would have a child. Financially it makes no sense to me but here in liberal NYC we supplement incomes with welfare and that word "responsibility" isn't even a thought.

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