Tennessee Workers Deserve a Living Wage
New Report Shows Tennessee Workers Need $14.79 an Hour to Make Ends Meet
“It’s time for a state minimum wage and local living wage legislation”
Nashville, TN – Minimum wage workers in Tennessee are falling further behind. While Tennessee has no official state minimum wage, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour while an actual living wage, the amount it takes a single worker to make ends meet, is $14.79 per hour.
A worker in Tennessee needs to work nearly 82 hours a week at minimum wage to cover their own basic needs. That’s the equivalent of holding down two full-time, minimum wage jobs.
Today, Tennessee Citizen Action is releasing “Pay Up! Long Hours and Low Pay Leave Workers at a Loss,” a national study showing that even the $15 an hour wage that is gaining momentum around the country is a modest proposal, and not enough for workers in most states to make ends meet.
Working full time should provide financial stability, not poverty. Low wage workers provide services we all count on every day as we do our shopping, dine out, or take our children to child care.
“This report puts real numbers to what we all know, the minimum wage keeps workers trapped in poverty. Working an astonishing 82 hours per week just to make ends meet is not realistic,” said Andy Spears, Executive Director of Tennessee Citizen Action.
Tennessee has no official state minimum wage and also has a state law preventing local governments from enacting a living wage (TCA 50-2-112).
“It’s time for Tennessee workers to have a state minimum wage,” Spears said. “We can’t wait for the broken Congress to act. Tennessee workers deserve better.
Spears also expressed support for allowing local governments to set a living wage.
“We hear a lot about the importance of local control,” Spears said. “But this legislature has taken action to prevent workers from earning a living wage, even if local governments and local voters approve.”
A living wage allows workers and families to meet their basic needs without public assistance and set aside a small amount of savings for emergencies such as a car repair, or plan ahead for expenses such as high winter heating bill. The living wage calculation includes food, housing, utilities, transportation, health care, (child care) clothing, savings and state and federal taxes.
The full report can be found at: thejobgap.org
Tennessee Citizen Action works in the public interest as Tennessee’s premier consumer rights organization. Our mission is to work to improve the overall health, well-being, and quality of life for all people who live and work in Tennessee.
Alliance for a Just Society is a national policy, research, and organizing network with 15 affiliates throughout the country that focuses on health, racial, and economic justice.