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Economy and Business

Northeast Ohio's cost of living and average wages don't match
And minimum wage incomes fall far short

A $50,000 income leaves tough choices, including whether to get medical care.
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In The Region:

A new study shows that Northeast Ohioans are not making enough to support a family of four, or even three. WKSU'S M.L. Schultze has more:

LISTEN: Where cost-of-living and average income part

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The average family in the Cleveland metro area makes about $50,000 a year. The report from the Economic Policy Institute says that’s $12,000 less than a family of four would need to afford a moderate lifestyle.  The study also says the minimum wage income of about $16,000 a year is nowhere near enough.

Anthony Caldwell of the Service Employees International Union says raising the minimum wage would boost the economy, and relieve spending on assistance programs.

“There is a large amount of subsidy through Medicaid, through food stamps, through uncompensated care at hospitals that goes into supporting the low wages at employers like big box retailers and fast-food restaurants.”

But Greg Lawson with the Buckeye Institute says raising the minimum wage would hurt job creation and that most minimum wage jobs are ladders to better-paying jobs.

“A lot of people think that if you raise the minimum wage, more people are going to have more money and you’re going to create more products. It also means that certain companies are going to not hire certain people. And if you look in certain communities, the unemployment rate is extremely high.”

Cleveland had the highest cost-of-living in Ohio, just ahead of Akron and Columbus. Toledo had the lowest. But nowhere could a family making minimum wage afford basis costs of living. 

Here a cost-of-living calculator from the Economic Policy Institute: 

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