A Living Wage

What is a “living wage”? A living wage is different from a “minimum wage.” A minimum wage is the least amount of an hourly wage an employer can pay an employee. The minimum wage is set by the government. (Right now, the minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.) A living wage is based on living expenses, and can fluctuate drastically depending on where a person lives. However, nowhere in the United States is a minimum wage enough for a person to live on without needing help from the government, churches, or social agencies.

Fighting for justice means fighting for people to get jobs that pay a living wage!

What is the living wage were you live? Check out this living wage calculator. 

Where I live, while the minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, the living wage for a family of four is $29.28 an hour. That’s quite a disparity! What’s the living wage were you live?

What do you think the following verses say about a living wage as compared to a minimum wage?

“If you hire poor people to work for you, don’t hold back their pay, whether they are Israelites or foreigners who live in your town. Pay them their wages at the end of each day, because they live in poverty and need the money to survive. If you don’t pay them on time, they will complain about you to the LORD, and he will punish you” (Deuteronomy 24:14-15)

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About Pastor Kevin

I am a husband, father, pastor, teacher, scuba diver, reader, bike rider...in that order.
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2 Responses to A Living Wage

  1. John Smith says:

    Kevin I think there is room for minimum wage and living wage jobs. My first jobs were mowing lawns for neighbors, then delivering newspapers, then working in a gas station pumping gas and cleaning up for closing then working on farms during the summers. These were all during my Elementary – High School years. By the time I finished high school I owned my own car free and clear and knew how to get and keep jobs. These low paying entry level jobs were a financial and experience boon to youth living at home. During those days my parents both worked on farms and in packing sheds. We lived in very humble homes and ate humble country cooking but I never felt poor or deprived.
    In those days family and friends took first responsibility to help the needy in their circles. I think this is the priority in Scripture.
    Some questions I struggle with?
    What is a living wage and what comforts are necessary for godly contentment? What standards should be used to determine if someone should be considered in need? What responsibilities should one meet to merit continued help? Who is first in line for the limited help available from the average Church?

    • revkev43 says:

      Hey John,

      Obviously between a teenager bagging groceries or a kid cutting grass and an adult with a wife and children, or a single parent. The living wage applies to adults. Also, and I wish I would have pointed this out earlier, a living wage could be the combined total of household income for a family of four.

      And yes, we do live in different times now. The Scriptural priority may very well be family and friends first (I don’t think it is quite that simple). Jesus, however, taught us who our neighbor is in the story of the Good Samaritan.

      I struggle with the same question as you. I think, however, a very effective way a church can offer assistance is to train people, educate people, and network with people to help them get better paying jobs. Lots of churches have programs to help pay utility bills or feed people or even clothe them, and all that is good, but how much better would it be if we figured out a way to assist people get jobs that paid more of a living wage than a minimum wage? A wise person once said, “The best welfare program is a job.” Our church is trying to figure out how to do this very thing.

      In my opinion, the only way we can truly help people, and the best way to insure we are offering real help and not just a hand out, is to build relationships with people in need. It has been my experience that when I (and my church) go out of our way to build real relationships with people in need we are more able to help them and less likely to be taken advantage of. Also, there are tons of social agencies in most communities that would love to partner with churches, but for whatever reason, we (in the church world) don’t trust them out of fear they may represent some liberal agenda. I think we need to get over that.

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