State report: Single adult on Oahu needs to earn $18 an hour to cover basic needs

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Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 1:40 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 21, 2022 at 1:49 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After failing to boost the minimum wage in previous sessions, a growing number of legislators say they’re determined to do it this year.

The state Senate is considering a measure that would increase the minimum wage to $18 by 2026.

Under the bill, the minimum wage would rise to $12 by October and $15 by 2024.

The minimum wage currently stands at $10.10 an hour (or about $21,008 annually for someone working 40 hours a week). It hasn’t changed since 2018.

Supporters of raising the minimum wage say it will push thousands of households out of poverty, while opponents say higher wages will only further burden pandemic-battered small businesses.

But wherever you stand on the issue, experts agree the minimum wage is below what people need just to cover the basics in Hawaii, which has the nation’s highest cost of living.

In fact, a new state report estimates Hawaii’s “self-sufficiency wage” ― or the amount needed to cover basic housing, food, transportation and other costs ― is $38,762 for a single adult living on Oahu.

That equates to an hourly wage of about $18.63.

According to the report, two adults with two children on Oahu need to bring in nearly $88,000 a year to cover the basics. Or put another way, both adults need to earn an hourly wage of about $21.15.

The report estimates that more than one third of Oahu households with two adults and two children have incomes below the self-sufficiency standard.

About 43% of single adults are below that line.

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