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Self Sufficiency Standard

Benchmark for Wage Setting

The Self-Sufficiency Standard has been used as a guideline for wage setting. By determining the wages necessary to meet basic needs, the Standard provides  information for setting wage standards.

  • The Standard has been used in California, Connecticut, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Hawaii, Nebraska, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington State to advocate for higher wages through living wage ordinances and in negotiating labor union agreements.
  • As part of the Raise the Wage Oregon campaign, Our Oregon performed an analysis called Lifting the Floor: Self-Sufficiency Wages in Oregon using the Standard as part of their argument for a $13.50 statewide minimum wage.
  • The Standard was used in an analysis called Poverty Doesn't Fly, performed by the Harry Bridges Labor Center at the University of Washington, of the economic impact of a proposed $15 minimum wage on workers at the Portland International Airport.
  • The Standard was cited in research and testimony in support of the SeaTac living wage ordinance (raising wages to $15/hour for covered employees) and in the successful campaign to raise the minimum wage in Seattle to $15/hour (over several years, depending on establishment size).
  • The Colorado Center on Law and Policy has used the Standard to advocate for state legislation allowing local governments to set higher local minimum wagers. Employers and educational institutions have also used the Self-Sufficiency Standard to set organizational wage standards in Colorado. The introduction of the Self-Sufficiency Standard in Pitkin County, Colorado, has encouraged county commissioners and directors to review current pay scales and work support policies.
  • In California, the Insight Center for Community Economic Development used the Self-Sufficiency Standard in a wage analysis of University of California service workers, entitled High Ideals, Low Pay: A Wage Analysis of University of California Service Workers. The Standard was used to assess the degree to which University of California service workers’ wages are sufficient to provide the basic needs for employees and their families. Insight CCED recommends the University of California consider using the Standard to determine and adopt living wage policies.
  • The Self-Sufficiency Standard was an integral tool for increasing Hawaii’s minimum wage to $6.75 on January 1, 2006 and $7.25 on January 1, 2007.
  • Georgetown University students ended a nine-day hunger strike when the University administration agreed to improve wages for the low-paid custodial, food service, and security workers. The student group utilized the Self-Sufficiency Standard for the District of Columbia in their campaign advocacy. The negotiated agreement included raising the minimum hourly wage to $13 beginning July 2006 and annual wage adjustments based on the Consumer Price Index.
  • In New York City, the Real Living Wage NYC campaign has used the Standard for NYC to make a case for their target of a $20 per hour “living wage.”
  • The Fiscal Policy Center in NYC uses the Self-Sufficiency Standard as the basis for identifying a real living wage level for NYC and in support of increasing the minimum wage in the fast-food industry.
  • New Jersey used the Standard to successfully lobby the state legislature to increase the minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $7.15 per hour.