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How to Calculate Your Living Wage

Showing the gap between what you earn and what you need is key to advocating for a fair salary. Here’s how to do it.
Published: June 8, 2020

A living wage is what you need to earn to meet all of your basic needs, such as food, childcare, housing, and healthcare. While that number varies from community to community, its importance is universal to ensuring all educators can live with dignity and serve their students.

Use the tools below to calculate your local living wage. Then take your results to your school board, your governor, or the bargaining table and show why compensation needs to increase.

Basic Family Budget Calculator

The Economic Policy Institute’s Basic Family Budget Calculator lets you determine the income needed for families of different sizes to make ends meet.

Living Wage Calculator

Dr. Amy Glasmeier and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology offer a calculator to estimate the living wage in your community. Enter your location, and you’ll see living wages for various family sizes in your community, how your local living wage compares to the minimum wage and the federal poverty wage, and typical wages for a number of jobs in your community.

Self-Sufficiency Standard

The Center for Women’s Welfare has a clickable map of each state’s self-sufficiency standard: “the amount of income necessary to meet basic needs ... without public subsidies ... and without private/informal assistance.“ 


Minimum Wage

In Boone County, West Virginia, the minimum wage is $8.75 per hour.

Living Wage

The living wage for a single adult with two children in that same area is $26.32 per hour.
Demand Change, Join the #RedForEd Movement

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Jump to updates, opportunities, and resources for NEA state and local affiliates.

Bargaining for the Common Good

Together, we can improve student learning and the educational environment, like smaller class size, fewer standardized tests, more recess and art and music classes, and additional counselors.
National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.