Living Wage Figures Updated for Tompkins County, NY: $11.11/hour or $12.11 w/o Health Insurance

The Tompkins County Workers’ Center is incredibly proud to stand with the Alternatives Federal Credit Union in Ithaca, New York as we update our Living Wage figures today. Alternatives is a national leader in financial institutions that recognizes and, in fact, actually acts on behalf of people rather than profit. We are also proud to stand with our 62 Living Wage-Certified Employers.

The new Living Wage for Tompkins County, for a single person, is $11.11/hour at 40 hours a week or $23,103.87/yearly, presuming health insurance coverage is provided by the employer (see table below). If health insurance is not provided, for a single person, the Living Wage than increases to $12.11/hour at 40 hours a week, or $25,188.80/yearly (based upon the cost of Healthy New York provided by the state government that can be purchased by the uninsured).

It is important to realize that the annual wage is just as important as the hourly wage because there are many employees in Tompkins County working at educational institutions and elsewhere that are laid off for significant portions of the year. The Workers’ Center uses the Family Budget Calculator from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a think tank in Washington, DC. that estimates, more realistically for many areas of the country, the true cost of living in such areas. The EPI, estimates for Ithaca for the various family sizes, annually, are as follows. Go to for more details:

One Parent, One Child: $46,144
One Parent, Two Children: $54,193
One Parent, Three Children: $68,656
Two Parents, One Child: $50,067
Two Parents, Two Children: $58,096
Two Parents, Three Children: $71,319

Of course there are many people in Tompkins County who are working full time and yet earning poverty wages. It is important to note that the Federal government presently sets the poverty level at ridiculously low and absurd rates. The 2009 Poverty Guidelines for the entire 48 contiguous states (especially important because many government assistance programs are indexed to these figures) are as follows:

$10,830 for a single person
$14,570 for two persons in family
$18,310 for three persons in family
$22,050 for four persons in family
$25,790 for five persons in family
$29,530 for six persons in family
In a global economy that favors corporate profits over the needs of the people that help to make these corporations wealthy (subsidized by taxpayers), and subsequently are helping to bring our economy dangerously close to a precipice of destruction, we have a movement growing and building in Tompkins County that seeks economic human rights for the vast vast majority of us. It is fair for all of us to ask the questions:

*If Alternatives Federal Credit Union and the CFCU Community Credit Union can pay a Living Wage, why can’t the Bank of America and the M & T Bank pay a Living Wage?
*If Jillian’s Drawers (a local parenting supply store in Ithaca) can do it, why can’t Wal-Mart and Target?
*If Tompkins County can do it, why not Cornell University and the Ithaca City School District?
*If Blue Spruce Painting and Sparks Electric can do it, why can’t all the other contractors?
*If GreenStar can do it, why not Tops, P and C, and Wegmans?
*If Autumn Leaves Used Books can do it, why not Borders and Barnes and Nobles?
*If the Stone Quarry House Bed and Breakfast can do it, why not the Holiday Inn and Ramada Hotels do it?