We know that the title equation is not true for many in the U.S. right now. And in many places in Washington, it also comes up short. For DV advocates in Washington, the statewide average wage is $14.91. Not bad. It definitely exceeds the statewide minimum of $9.19 per hour, and the federal minimum which is $7.25. However, how does this measure up to the Self-Sufficiency Standard, a measure that more accurately reflects how much it takes to make ends meet, county by county? Well, the answer could be good or bad, depending on where you live and the size of your household.
When we analyze the Wage and Benefit Survey data* using the Self Sufficiency Standard, there is a clear pattern. If you work as a DV advocate and you are only supporting yourself, your wage exceeds the Self Sufficiency Standard in all counties. Great! But that’s it for the good news. For a DV advocate who’s household includes one adult and one preschooler, she would only meet the Self Sufficiency Standard in 6 of Washington’s 39 counties (Adams, Columbia, Kittitas, Mason, Okanogan, and Stevens, in case you were curious). And once you add a school-age child to that household with one adult and one preschooler, there’s no county in Washington where a DV advocate would meet the Self Sufficiency Standard.
This isn’t surprising, given that 91% of the participants in the Wage and Benefit survey say that they relied on some other form of income in addition to their job at the DV agency to make ends meet. There are a lot of reasons why wages for DV advocates aren’t higher, and a lot of them have to do with our whole economic system (including how people, donors, funders perceive these kind of social service/non-profit jobs). But there is chatter about raising the minimum wage. President Obama has suggested that the federal minimum should be raised to $9.00, which still falls short. I’m not one to regularly read the Bloomberg report, but I came across this article from a self-described Capitalist who fully supports a big hike in the minimum wage—to $15.00 an hour. Check out the article and tell us what you think. Do you think it’s a good idea for your community? What about your agency? Are their funding barriers? Is the argument that the article uses about a higher minimum wage being good for capitalism an argument you can use with funders or your board? Let’s talk about it!*Analysis was done using the average wage per rural-urban code and comparing that with the Self-Sufficiency Standard for each county within that code. Three household groups were compared: Adult, Adult + Preschooler, and Adult + Preschooler + School Age. **Check out this easy calculator that helps you figure out the wage a family in your area needs to make ends meet.