Living Wage Index (LWI)

The Living Wage Index (LWI), the percentage of households in a municipality who earn enough to pay their bills, is based on the “Living Wage Calculator” developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the US Census.

We list the LWI percentages for some of the best known cities below and include, in parenthesis, the percentage of households in that community that don’t make enough to pay their bills (we call those “Living Wage Crisis Households”). The US is the wealthiest country in the history of the world. Consequently, the percentage of households in living wage crisis in cities is startling. This is particularly disturbing because the LWI is a measure of household income not individual income. Consequently, it reflects the income of multiple income earners in a household that, even together, do not earn a living wage income. Our surprising 2014 LWI findings are below:

Living Wage Index (Percentage of Households in Living Wage Crisis)

  • Baltimore – 58.04% (Living Wage Crisis Households: 41.96%)
  • Camden, NJ – 32.71% (Living Wage Crisis Households: 67.29%)
  • Chicago – 62.40% (Living Wage Crisis Households: 37.60%)
  • Dallas – 55.81% (Living Wage Crisis Households: 44.19%)
  • Detroit – 44.41% (Living Wage Crisis Households: 55.59%)
  • Houston – 61.25% (Living Wage Crisis Households: 38.75%)
  • Los Angeles – 56.52% (Living Wage Crisis Households: 43.48%)
  • Memphis – 54.99% (Living Wage Crisis Households: 45.01%)
  • Newark, NJ – 43.81% (Living Wage Crisis Households: 56.19%)
  • New York City – 60.93% (Living Wage Crisis Households: 39.07%)
  • Philadelphia – 57.86% (Living Wage Crisis Households: 42.14%)
  • San Diego – 66.10% (Living Wage Crisis Households: 33.90%)

This index is an extremely important measure because it means that in the largest cities in the United States, more than 1/3 of the households do not earn enough money to pay their monthly bills. The Middle Class Movement (MCM) was founded to influence government, business and nonprofit leaders to focus on job creation in communities with LWIs below 60%.

Living Wage Index (LWI)
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