Methodology for Estimating Living Wage

In creating a methodology for estimating living wages across the U.S., we strove to align as closely as possible with the principles described in the global gold standard “Anker Methodology” developed by Richard Anker and Martha Anker. For US made adjustments for the U.S. context and does not claim to be using the Anker Methodology itself. Rather, we have created a living wage estimation methodology that will allow employers working with Anker Methodology estimates globally to apply the same general understanding of a living wage to their workers in the U.S. We would like to fully acknowledge the groundbreaking work of Richard Anker and Martha Anker, as well as the Global Living Wage Coalition in advancing an understanding of living wage that may be applied globally. You may access the full Anker Methodology in the published manual Living Wages Around the World: Manual for Measurement.

We have included here a brief description of how the methodology developed by For US to estimate living wages in the U.S.  was created in alignment with the Anker Methodology, as well as the areas of difference in our methodology as adjusted for the US context. Additional details on how we implemented this methodology in partnership with the Economic Policy Institute shall be forthcoming.


  1. Drew Varnado says:

    There is quite a lot of discussion about the methodology, but is the framework actually discussed anywhere? We are interested in a possible data partnership and I’d like a little more insight into how this data is created and how it differs from the MIT methodologies around Living Wage.

    • Brian Smith says:

      Me too. I’m curious to see how the framework incorporates the earned income tax credit and benefits like food stamps, medicaid, housing subsidies, etc.

      • Thanks for this comment, Brian. We assess costs of living accounting for all benefits available. However, the wages necessary to reach a living wage across a country are too high for workers to benefit from SNAP, Medicaid and most public benefits. It is past the point where the benefits cliff drops. We do consider health insurance subsidies available through the ACA marketplace since those are still available at a living wage level of income. We also consider all relevant tax credits for our model family at a living wage in each location. Inclusive of child tax credits, etc.

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