Renowned Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took on her role as de facto spokeswoman for the progressive arm of the first-year Democrats who visited Washington in January. She did not entirely choose this role; It seems that every affirmation or action on his part is amplified by his supporters and critics in a way … unusual for a new Member of Parliament.
The result, however, can be a spotlight on things that are otherwise in the dark.
Consider the revelation that Ocasio-Cortez was struggling to afford housing in Washington. Over the past week, this concern has spread: on Twitter, she stressed that she was not alone and that many of Hill's employees were second job to afford the city.
"It's time to walk," she wrote. "Very few members of Congress pay their trainees. We will be one of them. "
It was right, she said in another tweet, that Congress pays the staff a "living wage".
This concept – a salary high enough to meet the needs of someone – is not new to Ocasio-Cortez. For some time now it has been a rallying cry among progressives, pointing out that the minimum wage in many places is not enough to support the family, once housing, food and other expenses have been met. been taken into account. In many places, it is not even enough to provide for a young adult without children, probably like many who could do an internship at Capitol Hill.
The MIT Living Subsistence Calculator estimates the cost of living in each county in the country, determining the hourly wage needed for individuals and families in each location. The main urban areas mapped are more expensive than others: New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area and, of course, the downtown area.
The living wage in DC is estimated at just under $ 18 an hour for both parents in a family of four.
The people of BC have an advantage that the residents of these other cities do not. In the capital, the higher minimum wage means that the gap between what the employee is earning to a minimum and what he has need to pay rent and to pay for food is lower than elsewhere. In DC, the difference is $ 5.34. In San Francisco, it's almost $ 13.
But of course, this higher minimum wage does not help trainees who receive no salary.
If we compare the living wage in each county for an unmarried adult with the minimum wage, the wider Washington-DC area – including the suburbs of Virginia and Maryland – stands out negatively for the comparison of minimum wage with what is actually required.
This gap between what is offered and what is needed is generally larger in urban areas than in rural areas, largely because of housing costs that have frustrated Ocasio-Cortez.
In Tulare County, California, for example, which is part of the Central Valley Agricultural of this state, the minimum wage is $ 11 / hour and the living wage of $ 16.74 for both parents d & rsquo; A family of four. Housing costs in the county represent less than half of an annual minimum wage salary.
Head north-west for an hour or two and you'll arrive at San Mateo County on the San Francisco Peninsula. Here, the minimum wage is the same, but the living wage goes up to $ 23.79, mainly because of housing. In San Mateo, housing absorbs more than 150% of the annual minimum wage.
The DC sector has a similar problem: housing absorbs a lot of a base salary. The Capital Region, like the Bay Area, stands out.
How much does housing cost? Ocasio-Cortez represents borough districts of New York City in the Bronx and Queens, where 90% of the annual minimum wage would cover the average housing costs of a family of four.
When New Yorkers have trouble calculating the cost of housing in another city, there is a problem.