Mar 31, 2022 - News

Ohio minimum wage doesn't go far at today's prices

Percentage of workers earning less than $15/hour
Reproduced from Oxfam America via U.S. Census; Map: Axios Visuals

At today's gas prices, it costs an Ohioan making minimum wage nearly a full day's work to fill up an average-sized car.

  • And it's getting tougher to pay for housing, food and other necessities.

Why it matters: Our $9.30 minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum of $7.25, but over the years, neither amount has kept up with the cost of living.

  • Democrats have proposed two bills to gradually increase Ohio's minimum wage to $15, though little progress has been made in the Republican-controlled legislature.
  • This resistance has led activists to take up the cause.

Driving the news: Increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour would impact more than one-third of Ohio workers — the vast majority of whom are adults — per anti-poverty advocacy group Oxfam America.

  • 37% of Ohioans currently earn less than that, higher than the U.S. average.

Zoom in: Significant gender and race disparities exist in the minimum wage discussion, per Oxfam's study.

  • 46% of women make less than $15 in Ohio, compared with 28% of men.
  • For people of color, the number jumps to 60% for women and 44% for men.

Flashback: Ohio voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2006 tying the minimum wage to inflation after 14 years of stagnant wages.

Yes, but: This gradual yearly increase still leaves Ohio's pay behind many other states, including Midwest neighbors Michigan, Illinois and Missouri.

  • Ohio's tipped employees have a minimum wage of $4.65.
  • And small businesses with yearly gross receipts under $342,000 can still pay the federal $7.25.

How far our current minimum wage goes without factoring in tax:

🏘️ Average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Ohio: $957

  • 103 hours of work, or 13 eight-hour work days

🏠 In Columbus: $1,488

  • 160 hours, 20 work days

🍔 "Moderate" monthly food plan for an adult aged 19-50, per the U.S. Department of Agriculture: $317

  • 34 hours, five work days

Cost to fill a 12-gallon gas tank (at $4.01 a gallon): $48

  • Five hours

🎓 Ohio State University tuition for one year: $11,936

  • 1,283 hours, 161 work days

… add in room and board at $13,352 and that's another 1,436 hours, or 180 work days.


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