Barest of bare minimums
Plano clocks in as least affordable U.S. city for minimum-wage earners, report says
In a recent SmartAsset study evaluating minimum wage for adjusted cost of living, the North Texas city tied with Honolulu as the city in America where minimum wage buys the least.
The study adjusted the prevailing minimum wage to account for cost of living in 79 cities. Once cost of living is factored in, the $7.25 minimum wage in Plano is the worst, worth only $6.47.
Dallas didn't fare too well either, ranking better than only eight cities. Dallasites hired for $7.25 may find their hourly rate is only worth $6.98. And that's before tax withholding.
The news isn't much better for Austin (which ranks just one place better than Dallas), where the $7.25 minimum wage is worth just $7.16.
While minimum wage isn't anything to aspire to, some cities have higher minimum wages that combined with cost of living make a dollar stretch further.
Denver, Colorado has the highest cost-adjusted minimum wage, at $15.07, and it started with the second-highest "on-paper" minimum wage ($17.29) of the cities considered. Spokane, Washington ($15.02); Buffalo, New York ($14.92); Minneapolis ($14.85); and St. Louis ($13.68) stacked up as the five cities with the highest real minimum wage.
Besides Plano and Honolulu, the worst cities for minimum wage earners are New Orleans ($6.54), Philadelphia ($6.69) and Atlanta ($6.80). In all of these cities, the minimum wage paid is $7.25, the amount required by federal law.
Honolulu's minimum wage is $12.00 an hour, with state-mandated increases of $2 coming in 2024, 2026 and 2028. Its high cost of living, however, is likely to keep the value of its entry level wages down.
Minimum wage in all of the evaluated Texas cities is $7.25, the same as the federal minimum wage. Cost of living makes the adjusted wages a bit better or worse accordingly, and in several Texas cities, the cost-adjusted wage is actually worth more than the statutory wage (stated wage as required by law).
That's not the case in Plano, Dallas, and Austin, where cost of living reduced the value of wages. In any case, entry level wages aren't stretching very far anywhere in Texas. All of the Texas cities considered fell in the bottom third for the buying power of adjusted minimum wage.
Real minimum wage in Texas cities
The report data lists cities in order of the highest adjusted value for wages, with first place as the best and 79th as the lowest value. Here's where the Texas cities ranked and what $7.25 an hour is really worth in each one:
- 52 - El Paso ($8.11)
- 53 - Lubbock ($8.07)
- 58 - San Antonio ($7.86)
- 60 - Corpus Christi ($7.75)
- 62 - Houston ($7.58)
- 65 TIE - Fort Worth ($7.51)
- 65 TIE - Arlington ($7.51)
- 70 - Austin ($7.16)
- 71 - Dallas ($6.98)
- 78 TIE - Plano ($6.47)
Southlake, recently named the richest city in America, wasn't considered in this study, but we can assume the results wouldn't be good.