- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 19, 2016

The average cost of raising a family in Washington, D.C. is more expensive than literally anywhere else in the United States, but District residents wishing to relocate somewhere with a lower living wage don’t have to look all too far: despite boasting the highest living wage in the country, D.C. borders states where the amount needed to support a family of three is significantly less.

Using a Living Wage Calculator created by a professor of economic geography at MIT, career site Zippia determined the average annual income needed to support two adults and a kid in each of the 50 states and District of Columbia, then plotted the data on an interactive map that visually displays the disparities.

Chris Kolmar, a self-proclaimed “data nerd” with Zippia, figured D.C. had the highest living wage after determining it costs \$67,867 per year to raise a family of three in the District, according to Prof. Amy Glasmeier’s online calculator. After taking into account geographically specific expenditure data concerning factors like food, housing and other basic needs, D.C. proved to be the costliest place in the country, trailed in second place by Hawaii, where the annual living wage needed there amounted to \$60,867.

Once beyond D.C.’s border, however, costs dropped significantly. Maryland has the sixth highest annual living wage at \$58,178, while Virginia ranked eleventh at \$54,264.

Venturing slightly further outside the District, Pennsylvania and West Virginia’s annual living wage was significantly less at \$49,914 and \$44,823 per year, respectively, according to Mr. Kolmar’s calculations.

“The point we’re trying to make here is, depending on where exactly you live in the U.S., your cost of living can be sky high or as low as dirt. After all, this is the melting pot of the world—why wouldn’t the cost of living—and therefore, the living wage—vary just as much as the folks who make up this country?” he wrote.

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Indeed, locales from coast to coast have increasingly experimented with the idea of passing “living wage” laws in recent years, and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has made raising the federal minimum wage to a “living wage” a main campaign issue ahead of the 2016 election. According to an Associated Press report from last month, however, states and cities that have implemented their own “living wage” laws have had a hard time ensuring employers are compensating workers accordingly. More than 100 businesses in Seattle have been investigated during the last year on suspicion of failing to pay employees adequate wages, AP reported, while San Francisco has seen 40 during the same period.