EPI’s Family Budget Calculator, which includes data for 618 communities throughout the country and is updated through 2014, estimates that a two-parent, two-child household would need $92,603 to attain a modest standard of living in the Ithaca MSA.Both of the adults in this household would have to be fully employed and earn over $22/hour each to manage this family budget. The Calculator also estimates basic family budgets for seven other family types (http://www.epi.org/resources/budget/budget-factsheets/#/405).
The new data highlights in even more stark and disturbing terms how workers in low wage jobs – anything less than $15 or so per hour – cannot make ends meet and struggle mightily and sometimes fail to meet their or their family’s basic needs. According to USDOL figures for 2014, for example, the median wage for four of the more common occupations in the Ithaca area is $8.97 for fast food workers, $9.07 for cashiers, $10.43 for retail sales workers, and $10.97 for home health aides (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_27060.htm).Making matters much worse, many of these workers also face less than full-time or full-year work and unpredictable or on-call scheduling.
“These data show more than ever,” said Pete Meyers, TCWC Coordinator, “how critical it is for our community and our County Legislators to come together now to demand and enact a minimum wage in Tompkins County that is a Living Wage.It is long past due for our local government representatives to pay attention to the needs of so many of our struggling working families. Our situation is more critical than almost anywhere else in the entire country. And we cannot wait for others to do this for us.”