Workers in many parts of the country could see their income rise in 2022.
Workers who earn minimum wage often struggle to make ends meet. This may especially hold true today, since inflation has made the general cost of living even more expensive. And minimum wage earners without money in savings may really be having a hard time paying more for essentials like gas, food, and clothing.
There’s a little bit of good news, though. This year, 21 states will be increasing their minimum wage. That means workers may soon have at least a somewhat easier time managing their bills.
Where are minimum wages rising?
Though the federal minimum wage has held steady at $7.25 an hour for roughly 13 years, states have the ability to set their own minimum wage. This year, 21 states will be increasing their minimum wage as follows:
Not surprisingly, minimum wage is often tied to the cost of living. And so it stands to reason that someplace like Montana would have a lower minimum wage than a more expensive state like New York or California.
How to get by on a minimum wage
If you earn the minimum wage in your state, paying your bills may be extraordinarily difficult. One of the most important things you can do is put yourself on a budget. By mapping out your expenses, you can prioritize the things you can’t do without, like housing and food, and then see if there’s money left over for small splurges (unfortunately, there may not be).
Your income will also go further if you’re able to cut some of your existing costs. While you absolutely have to eat, researching supermarket sales on a weekly basis could help you slash your grocery spending. And if you’re able to carpool to your job with a coworker, you might save on gas. Meanwhile, finding a roommate is a good bet if housing currently eats up a large chunk of your income.
It also pays to see if you qualify for any sort of government assistance. You may, for example, be eligible for assistance in buying food with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program. And if you contact your state housing department, you may find that you’re eligible for more affordable housing than what you have now.
Lower earners may also be eligible for help with utility costs. If you make minimum wage, it pays to look into your options under the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).