Family Budget Calculator shows need for higher minimum wage

Chuck Sheketoff

How much income do families across Oregon need to meet basic necessities? A lot more than what the current minimum wage provides.

The Economic Policy Institute’s updated Family Budget Calculator estimates the income a family needs to secure a safe and decent — yet modest — living standard in the community in which the family resides. The calculator takes into account the cost of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, other necessities and taxes for families. The calculator does not include savings for retirement, for a rainy day or for college. It is based on 2014 costs data.

The Family Budget Calculator recognizes that the cost of making ends meet varies according to family structure and location. Thus, the calculator provides estimates for families of different sizes (including, for the first time, childless adults) living in different regions of Oregon.

The calculator provides figures for families residing in the metropolitan areas of Bend, Corvallis, Eugene-Springfield, Medford-Ashland, Portland and Salem. The calculations for the rest of Oregon are listed under what the calculator calls “Rural Oregon.”

The following table presents some of the Family Budget Calculator figures for Oregon. The online tool itself offers estimates for additional types of families.

How do these figures compare to the income that a minimum wage worker makes? In 2014, a minimum wage worker in Oregon working full time (40 hours per week) would have earned $18,928 — not enough to support a single adult, much less a single parent and child or a couple raising children.

The updated Family Budget Calculator helps make the case for significantly increasing Oregon’s minimum wage.

Oregon Center for Public PolicyChuck Sheketoff is the executive director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy. You can sign up to receive email notification of OCPP materials at

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