Minimum Wage should be indexed to 2% of a city’s median rent.

And here’s why:

Housing costs are the single biggest financial burden facing Americans today.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development define being cost-burdened as spending more than a third of your income on rent. By that definition, over half of the households in this country are cost-burdened. Source

If we want people to be able to afford to live in cities and not get priced out, we have to make a two pronged approach. One is to build houses towards all incomes and price ranges, not just luxury condos. And the other is a robust wage floor so people can actually afford to live.

Fight for 15 is doing an amazing job and I love them, but we have to realize that is quite a few places, $15/hr still isn’t enough to live on.

Which is where the 2% comes in. It allows a minimum wage that is flexible with regards to the costs of living.

And it wasn’t plucked out of thin air either:

Rent should be a third of a persons income, or to restate the equation: income should be three times a person’s rent.

And since a full time job is 8 hrs a day / 40 hrs a week / 160 hrs a month.

So when you do the math, the ideal hourly minimum wage as a percentage of rent works out to around 1.875%, which for ease of calculation is 2%.

Example minimum wages under a 2% rent rule:

  • San Francisco: $67.40/hr
  • New York City: $56/hr
  • Boston: $55.94/hr
  • Los Angeles: $27/hr
  • Houston: $21.38/hr
  • St. Louis: $18.22/hr
  • Billings, MT: $17.16/hr

I. That puts San Fran’s cost-of-living issue into perspective. 

DC: $47.

Fuck, that’s more than I make in my day job, and I have one of the better-paying jobs among my peers.