Factors other than cost of living should be considered when evaluating the affordability of any region. One key factor is the availability of jobs paying wages that would enable an adult to afford housing, food, transportation, child care and other basic expenses. This is known as the minimum income needed for a family to be self-sufficient–meaning an income that allows them to live without public assistance or housing and food insecurity.
MIT has developed a Living Wage Calculator that identifies the minimum income needed for a variety of family configurations to be self-sufficient in states and counties across the United States.
In metro Atlanta for example, the Living Wage Calculator indicates that a single parent with two children would need to make $26.68 an hour for the family to be financially self-sufficient. The minimum wage in metro Atlanta is $7.25 an hour. The minimum wage would need to be nearly four times higher for a single parent with two children to meet the living wage with a minimum wage job.
On average across the 25 metros compared in MIT’s calculator, the minimum wage would need to increase 257% to attain the living wage for a single parent, two-child family.