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The MWJE (Minimum-wage job equivalent)

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Joined: 17 Mar 2006
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Location: Oregon

PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2006 10:13 am    Post subject: The MWJE (Minimum-wage job equivalent) Reply with quote

When I want to see how expensive something really is, I often
convert the dollars involved into how many full-time minimum-wage
jobs would be needed to pay for the thing.

For instance, consider the case of someone commuting 100 miles
a day driving an SUV that gets 10 mpg, where gas costs $5/gallon.
An extreme case, I'll grant, but not so terribly far-out. By the way,
that translates to over 10 tons of gasoline per year (see my posting
"Measure gasoline in pounds, not gallons" in this same forum).

500 miles per week at 10 mpg is 50 gallons and $250. Do this
for 52 weeks and you get $13,000. 52 weeks = 2080 hours.
minimum wage is five something per hour - assume $5.50.
So, one minimum-wage job pays $11,440 per year.

Commuting in the scenario above costs $13000/$11440 or
1.14 MWJEs. Of course, there are other expenses associated
with owning and operating a vehicle. For instance, purchase
price at $500/month translates to 0.52 MWJEs. Also, this
analysis does not include the notion that for most people these
expenses are not paid in pre-tax dollars, so the commute
translates to perhaps 1.5 MWJEs, and the SUV purchase is
about 0.8 MWJEs.

Of course, many people are paid several multiples of an MWJE.
By thinking in terms of the MWJE, one can see how far extended
one is financially if one's job situation changed, and one no longer
had a 4-8 MWJE job, for instance. Even a 5 MWJE job (say $27/hour)
would be strained to pay such a transportation expense,
considering that many house payments are in the 1-2 MWJE
range (before considering the effect of taxes).

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