$15 minimum wage permits few luxuries in US cities

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 3, 2014 at 7:10 pm •  Published: June 3, 2014
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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