Monday, February 5

Florida One of a Few States With Lower Income Than Living Wage

I clicked on an article in my feed that talked about the living wage needed in all 50 states. The purpose was to show that some states required more than others for an average family to survive without assistance. While it's true that some states were much higher than others, those states tended to have pay that went along with the need. Florida, however, was not one of those states. In Florida, the living wage needed was higher than the one earned for a family of two adults and one child.

Zippia mapped this out using MIT's Living Wage Calculator, which probably doesn't even take into account some of the hidden costs I've found since moving to Florida. According to the calculations, Florida's living wage would be $52,206, but the median household income is $50,860 (-$1,346). The other states that fall short of meeting the living wage necessary are Arkansas (-$237), Louisiana (-$2,829), Mississippi (-$4,330), New Mexico (-$1,302), and West Virginia (-$1,438). So I wonder what these states have in common that affects our lower-than-living wages.

The most obvious connection is geographic. We're all in the South. All except New Mexico are Right to Work states, but so are many of the states that don't fail the same way, so I'm going to say that's not the issue. Florida is one of the fastest growing states, but the others aren't in the top 10, so it's not just a bunch of slackers showing up looking for handouts, either. Florida is also the only state on this list with no state income tax. Three of the states are in the top 10 most violent states (including Florida), but that also doesn't really explain it. Sales tax is high in several of these states, but again, it's not seemingly the biggest factor.

One of the most surprising non-factors is that none of these states are higher than the national average for state and local debt, so even though we don't make enough money here, maybe we won't be stuck trying to figure out how to build roads like they are in Kansas right now.

I can't figure it out, really. I know Florida has the Paradise Tax, meaning employers don't pay as much because they assume the weather makes up for lack of pay. I can't imagine this "tax" in New Mexico or Arkansas, however. I think this explains Florida a bit: retirees have a finite, fixed amount to spend on living, so they tend to outlive their means each year on purpose.

Overall, I guess it's just some combination of factors. But it's sad that there are several states with people making $10,000 or more over the living wage, while most of Florida is stuck just getting by. Since I don't know what causes it, I can't even tell you what needs to be done, and I bet our state government doesn't know the answer, either. Not a good mystery to have, I suppose. Maybe the way to figure it out is to try income tax or lower property tax for a few years, just to see if there's a shift. I really don't know. If you've got ideas, write to your representative.

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