A full-time minimum wage worker earns $15,080 per year, less than the poverty level for a family of three. Living wage campaigns seek to remedy this situation.
In addition to successful efforts to raise state minimum wages, there has also been an active push to enact "living wage" ordinances on the local and state level. While ordinances are most common in cities and counties, Maryland passed a state wide living wage ordinance in May 2007. Living wage laws require municipal governments and contractors hired by the city to pay their employees regionally-determined livable wages. The methods for calculating a living wage vary, but in an effort to have earnings better reflect area costs of living, most living wages are tied to regional housing costs.
Living wage ordinances have also been put in place by county governments and universities ranging from Des Moines to Minneapolis to Baltimore. To date, 123 cities, counties and universities have pledged to pay their employees a living wage. An addition 119 campaigns for living wages are currently underway.
The Reform Movement approved a resolution endorsing living wage campaigns at the December 1999 Biennial in Orlando, Florida. For more information on the living wage, consult the Religious Action Center's in-depth issue brief.