Working Minnesota

What is the Minimum Wage Challenge?

Can you and your family live on $7.25 an hour? That’s just $290 a week – and even less after taxes.

Working Minnesota is asking community leaders and elected officials to take the “Minimum Wage Challenge” for one week, Feb. 18-25. They’re going to find out — in Mankato, Hibbing, Rochester, Moorhead, Duluth and other communities — what it’s really like to plan a budget, buy groceries, find a place to live and manage transportation on just $290 each week.

The elected and community leaders who are taking this challenge will meet with actual minimum wage workers on Friday, Feb. 21, for a reality check. We’ll test the theoretical challenge of living on a limited budget against the difficult choices faced every day by those living on minimum wage:

• Heating… or eating?
• Another package of ramen? Or can I splurge for McDonald’s tonight?
• Where can I afford to live on my budget?

More than 350,000 Minnesotans live on $7.25 an hour (or less) — and they’re not just teenagers. Eighty percent are 20 years of age or older. Many are working parents, and more than 280,000 children in Minnesota will benefit from an increase in our state’s minimum wage.

Thanks to a grass-roots campaign by activists from all over Minnesota, state legislators will consider an increase in the minimum wage, to $9.50 an hour, when they convene for business in St. Paul on Feb. 25.

There will be plenty of debate and lots of facts and figures tossed around. The Minimum Wage Challenge will make sure this discussion is grounded in the real-life choices confronted by hundreds of thousands of Minnesota workers who are trying to get by on just $7.25 an hour.

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