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What would you do with an extra $100 per week?

Posted by Doug Saffir  March 13, 2014 05:03 PM

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Jim Davis/Boston Globe

Massachusetts House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo wants to put a crisp Benjamin in the pocket of every minimum wage employee in the state on a weekly basis.

That's the difference his proposed minimum wage hike would make for people currently earning just $8 per hour. DeLeo has proposed a $2.50 hike, bringing the minimum wage up to $10.50.

You can read more about DeLeo's proposal here, but let's talk about the important question: if this thing passes, what are people going to do with the extra cash?

MIT's living wage calculator provides some useful information about how much it costs for a typical person (or family) to cover specific expenses from groceries to transportation.

According to the calculator, housing is the most expensive cost, with single adults spending just over $225 per week and a family of four spending $301.75.

As for groceries, a single adult is expected to spend about $60.50 each week, while a family of four should spend $178.25.

Medical and transportation costs are the other major expenses the calculator lists. Single adults spend $35 and $65.50 on those each week, respectively. Families of four take a bigger hit, spending $84.50 on medical and $157.25 on transportation, each week.

With those figures in mind, DeLeo's proposal stands to dramatically change the lives of those who earn minimum wage. After all, the MIT calculator points out that the expected cost of living outpaces Massachusetts' minimum wage by about $137 per week.

If the Speaker gets his way, more people will be able to eat, drive to work, and perhaps settle into a nicer apartment or even buy a home. $2.50 may seem like chump change, but when that's the difference every hour a person works, 10 quarters turns into real money.

Reach me at douglas.saffir@globe.com. Follow me @dougsaffir

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