What is a Living Wage?

A wage that is adequate to meet the basic needs of a worker and his or her family for food, housing, clothing, transportation, medical, and education fees, adjusted to the cost of living for that particular region of the world.

Why is a “living wage” important?

  • Currently, throughout the world, many workers receive only enough wages to make it back and forth to their job and provide basic food and housing security for their family.
  • With only modestly higher wages, workers can ensure that their families receive medical care and an education, while saving enough money to enjoy some degree of control over their lives and investing in their own family.

How do you know?

In August 2010, we visited two factories in Managua, Nicaragua.  Both paid high incomes for Nicaragua, where the average salary per day is $2.

A foreign-owned factory, in one of the Free Trade Zones, paid workers $4 a day.  The workers who earned $4 per day were locked into a permanent bind; they earned enough to get to and from work, to eat, and to maintain some kind of home. 

The other, a collection of women who owned their own factory near a farm, paid workers $5 a day.   The workers who earned $5 per day were able to afford medicine for their families, to educate their children, and to save a small amount of money so that an unexpected cost in the family would not cause them to lose everything.  The $1 difference in daily earnings allowed them to live modestly, but the slightly higher income gave them basic security, health, and the opportunity for their children to succeed and grow.