Can you live off $15 an hour?
Today, one in four working adults makes less than $15 an hour. That’s about 42 million Americans. These workers may be supporting a family or maybe they are just starting out with little experience and education. Either way, making such a low wage is difficult to get by on.
Fortunately, many cities and states have started to take action to ensure that workers can make ends meet on these low wages. In 2018, 21 cities have now adopted a $15 minimum wage—and several more have legislation pending.
This article details the highest-paying markets for those working in fast food and other positions that typically pay $15 an hour or less. Read on to see if your city made the list.
If you want to earn a good living with a $15 an hour wage and don’t want to work in a big city, Denver may be the place for you. The cost of living in Denver is quite low—and the wages reflect that.
The median household income in Denver is $63,433, which is around $15,000 less than the national average. But if you start working at a fast food restaurant or a convenience store, your hourly rate is $15. That’s higher than the hourly wages at most other types of low-skilled jobs in Denver.
Although the cost of living in Denver is low, the city’s economy is booming. Denver has a growing population, expanding infrastructure, and is home to several large corporations. So if you want to work in Denver, you have plenty of opportunities—and plenty of demand for workers.
Washington, DC has a high cost of living but also a high median income. That means that those who work low-wage jobs can still make ends meet on a $15 hourly wage. The average annual income in Washington, DC is $75,836, which is $14,000 more than the national average.
You can make $15 an hour as a retail worker, cashier, or food service worker. You can also make $15 an hour as a barista or hotel housekeeper. So, if you want to work in the nation’s capital, you can likely find a job that will let you make ends meet on a $15 hourly wage.
Seattle is another city with a relatively high cost of living that also pays high wages. The median income in Seattle is $75,284, which is $14,000 more than the national average. You can make $15 an hour working in retail, hotel housekeeping, or food service. If you have experience, you can also make $15 an hour as a paralegal or administrative assistant.
About 8% of Seattle’s population is employed in the healthcare industry, and about 7% work in education. So, if you want to work in healthcare or education, you can likely find a job paying $15 an hour.
San Francisco, CA
The city with the highest cost of living in the country also has a high median income. San Francisco’s minimum wage is $15 an hour—so if you are working a low-wage job, chances are you are already making $15.
If you want to work in San Francisco, you need to be ready to compete. The city has an unemployment rate of 2.7%, which is lower than the national average of 3.8%. So, if you want to work in San Francisco, you will likely need a bit of experience or a college degree.
However, if you can get your foot in the door, you may be able to advance quickly. The city has a high rate of job turnover—meaning that many workers leave their jobs after a short period of time. That is likely due to the high cost of living in San Francisco.
New York City, NY
The Big Apple has a high cost of living and a high median income. As a result, you can make $15 an hour working in a variety of fields.
You can make $15 an hour working as a barista, hotel housekeeper, retail clerk, or food service worker. If you have experience, you can make $15 an hour as a paralegal, administrative assistant, or medical assistant.
The demand for workers in New York City is high, especially in healthcare and education. About 9% of New York City’s population is employed in healthcare, and about 15% work in education. There is also a demand for workers in technology and media.
Whether you want to work in a big city or a small town, there are plenty of places where you can make a living off a $15 an hour wage. The key is to have the right skills and experience. If you are ready to start your job hunt and make more money, we have a few tips for you.
First, do your research and make a list of where you want to work. Then, prepare for the job search by revising your resume and practicing for your interviews. Finally, be confident, be tenacious, and you will be well on your way to earning more money.