A living wage that provides full-time workers with the financial means to meet basic needs based on their local cost of living. This includes all compensation for work performed, including hourly wage or annual salary, commission, tips, bonus or profit share.

How others put this principle into practice

  • Vendors paid more than $25,000 per year by the city of Berkeley must comply with the Living Wage Ordinance. To comply, vendors must pay a living wage (set by the city), provide health benefits or cash in lieu and provide paid time off. Learn more about this and other vendor requirements, or read the full ordinance. Vendors must have a Berkley city business license. Effective July 1, 2022, vendors must pay employees $17.41 per hour plus a medical benefit equivalent to at least $2.89 per hour. If the employer does not provide the employee at least $2.89 per hour toward an employee medical benefits plan, the employer shall pay an hourly wage of not less than $20.30. Vendors must provide employees with at least 22 days off per year for sick leave, vacation or personal necessity; 12 of these days off must be compensated at the same wage as for a normal working day.

  • King County issued an ordinance and a Frequently Asked Questions Guide that outlines wage requirements and addresses repercussions for noncompliance. Contractors (and their subcontractors) awarded a contract valued $100,000 or more must pay a living wage to their employees. Wages are based on the company’s total number of employees. Companies that fail to pay living wages may be subject to (1) disqualification from bidding on a King County contract and (2) damages and termination of a contract. Living wage for a single individual in 2022 is $21.42 per hour.

  • Pacific Gateway, the workforce development board in Long Beach, California, implemented a minimum wage requirement of $15 per hour in 2018 for all Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act on-the-job training contracts to ensure that participants were being placed on a pathway to economic mobility. Each year the hourly rate for on-the-job training is reviewed and approved by the board based on current economic conditions.

Ways you can get started

Living wage policy

This job quality intervention outlines how workforce and economic development agencies can compensate for a lack of federal action by creating living wage policies to mandate or incentivize wages that are high enough to allow workers to meet their basic needs.

Wage subsidies

This job quality intervention outlines how workforce, economic development, and human services agencies can advance living wages through the hundreds of millions of dollars in federal wage subsidies they provide to employers each year.

See How It's Measured