Widget time! In an article noting South Dakota’s unique effort to lower the minimum wage (yay, us), Will Drabold includes this cool clicky box showing the estimated basic family budget for single South Dakotans (if two can live as cheaply as one, then who needs a separate chart for couples?):
Note that the Economic Policy Institute numbers that Drabold plugs into his widget indicate that South Dakota’s cost of living ranges from 7% below the national average for childless singles to 13% below the national average for a single parent with one child. Interestingly, while the EPI data generally show higher costs of living in Rapid City and Sioux Falls/Sioux City (the EPI widget doesn’t distinguish, although anyone who’s visited can tell you there is a world of difference between Sioux Falls and Sioux City), single life is 1.5% cheaper in Rapid and 4.2% cheaper in the Sioux Falls/City metroplex (and somehow the widget doesn’t factor in the immense savings of riding one’s bicycle everywhere!).
But even in that cheap eastern metro, minimum wage still falls short of paying the bills. EPI says a single person in Sioux Falls/City can get by on a basic budget of $25,429. Full-time work at $8.55 an hour, 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, just barely misses 70% of that cost. That single person would have to work over 57 hours a week all year to clear all expenses in Sioux Falls/City and nearly 60 hours a week in rural South Dakota.
Bump the household up to two adults and two children, and the minimum wage budget gets much tighter. The South Dakota urban cost of living for that family is $58,658. If Mom and Dad each work 40 hours a week at minimum wage, they’ll make 60.6% of that budget. Clearing that basic budget requires almost 132 hours of minimum-wage work each week. Split that burden between the two parents, and Mom and Dad each have to put in 66 hours a week. So much for family time.
p.s.: A minimum wage of $12.23 an hour would cover the single Sioux Falls/City denizen’s bills if she worked 40 hours a week every week of the year. To cover the two-parent, two-child family’s bills, Mom and Dad would each need full-time jobs paying $14.10 an hour.