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The minimum wage in Wisconsin covers 29.9% of the living wage for a family with two working adults and two children — the lowest percentage in the nation, according to the MIT Living Wage Calculator. 

The highest percentage is in the state of Washington, where the minimum wage covers 59.8% of the living wage.

The calculator considers a “living wage” enough to cover basic needs, including food, housing and medical care. It does not include costs such as restaurants, vacations and saving for retirement.

Since 2009, Wisconsin’s minimum wage has been the same as the federal rate, $7.25/hour. For a two-adult, two-child Wisconsin family, the living wage is $24.28. For one adult with no children it is $16.40. In either case, the state’s minimum wage is much lower than its cost of living.

Thirty states and Washington, D.C. have minimum wages higher than the federal minimum.


MIT: A Calculation of the Living Wage

MIT: About the Living Wage Calculator

MIT: Living Wage Calculation for Wisconsin

National Conference of State Legislatures: State Minimum Wages

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Hope Karnopp / Wisconsin WatchReporting intern

Hope Karnopp joined Wisconsin Watch as a reporting intern in May 2022. She is a journalism major and is pursuing certificates in public policy and environmental studies at UW-Madison. Hope previously covered state politics as an intern for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She also works with the Daily Cardinal and hosts a radio segment about campus news for WORT-FM, which has been recognized by the Milwaukee Press Club.