Frequently Asked Questions


What exactly is a living wage?

A living wage is the gross hourly wage a worker needs to earn to afford their basic expenses (shelter, food, etc.) without relying on additional public assistance programs. Raise Arizona calculates the rate for a single worker and his or her basic expenses, regardless of their household composition.

How is the living wage calculated?

There are many methods for calculating a living wage. Raise Arizona utilizes the Universal Living Wage Formula. This formula relies on data from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); this data is widely used by the banking and housing sectors to calculate rent and home loan rates. HUD defines housing security for an individual as spending no more than 30% of income on housing costs and determines local rental rates in line with this equation.

Using HUD’s 2015 Fair Market Rent data, Maricopa County’s rate for a one-bedroom apartment is $735 per month. Raise Arizona uses the following formula to determine the living wage:

  1. $735 x 12 months = $8,820
  2. $8,820 = 30% of total income
  3. Total income = $29,400
  4. Living Wage per hour = $29,400/2080 (40 hours a week x 52 weeks)
  5. Living Wage per hour = $14.13

How many working Arizonans would benefit from a living wage?

It is estimated that 39% individuals and families in Arizona are considered working poor. These are folks who are currently working but living at or below the poverty line. An increase in wages for close to 40% of the population would lift many out of poverty and raise the overall economic health of the state. It’s a win, win.

How is Raise Arizona different from other wage campaigns taking place across the country?

Raise Arizona is a community partnership for living wages and is built around the voluntary participation of businesses and consumers. We believe this proactive approach has the potential to circumvent the political gridlock that unfortunately so often surrounds mandatory minimum wage increases.  By inviting businesses and consumers to be a part of the solution, Raise Arizona hopes to collectively realize our vision of an economy where full-time work affords individuals and families the ability to pay for their basic expenses.

How can I support Raise Arizona?

  • Follow us on Twitter @azlivingwage
  • Refer potential Living Wage Businesses to Raise Arizona
  • Spend your dollars at businesses and employers who pay a living wage!