Minimum Wage & Federal Poverty

Working full-time and year-round at the state minimum wage earns only a fraction of a living wage in King County.

A living wage is the income required – working full-time and year-round without public assistance – to meet basic needs and have some ability to deal with emergencies and plan ahead. “It is not a poverty wage.” (Low Wage Nation, 2015)

Washington State’s 2014 minimum wage – $9.32 per hour – was the highest in the nation. But this was not a living wage, and was below the Federal Poverty Threshold ($24,008 for a family of 4 with 2 children).

  • In 2014, workers who earned 2 times the Federal Poverty Threshold ($48,016) and those who worked full-time at minimum-wage jobs were still unable to afford basic necessities.

  • A family of 4 with 2 adults working for minimum wage would fall more than $50,000 short of a living income. More than half of the second income (before taxes) would go to child-care expenses. 


Notes & Sources


  • Living wage: People's Action Institute

  • Minimum wage: Washington Department of Labor & Industries

  • Federal poverty thresholds: US Census Bureau

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