The federal minimum wage in the U.S. is $5.15 an hour. But based on the cost of housing and other necessities, the living wage in Montana is calculated at $8.61 per hour for a single adult, $17.07 per hour for a single adult with two children.
For positions that pay a living wage, there are far more applicants than there are jobs: “On average, 12 people apply for jobs that pay $17.07 per hour in Montana. Four apply for every opening that offers $8.61 per hour.”
One of the advantages of the “living wage” is that it can be tailored to the actual cost of living in different parts of the country. That makes it a far more flexible standard than the poverty line or the federal minimum wage. Washington and Oregon have set their minimum wages higher than the federal line. But that’s only appropriate. According to the living wage calculations, the cost of living is higher in those states than it is in Idaho and Montana.
If you’re interested in how the budget for the living wage is calculated, the Job Gap reports for Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, published by the Northwest Federation of Community Organizations, are definitely worth a read.