(Originally published April 11, 2014)

Debate over the minimum wage is all the rage at the moment at both the federal and state levels. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has made raising Illinois’ minimum wage from $8.25 an hour to $10 a major plank in his reelection campaign platform.

President Barack Obama advocates doing the same at the federal level, which now has a $7.25 minimum wage.

On July 7, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Minimum Wage Working Group voted in favor of raising the city’s minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2018.

The tug-of-war on this issue is intense. While the Congressional Budget Office issued a report saying raising the federal minimum wage would hurt job creation, proponents say it’s a necessary step to ensuring that all full-time workers can make a “living wage.”

But as the graphic below illustrates, “living wage” is a highly relative term. Specifically, it’s relative to where you live. This interactive map breaks it down to the county level in each state.

To see the differences county-to-county, click a state then click the “crosshair” icon in the upper right:  min wage graphic helpThen click a county and the number of hours needed to earn a living on minimum wage displays in the box on the map’s right.

Note the difference in what constitutes a living wage in, for example, Massac County in far southern Illinois and Cook County.

UPDATE, July 9, 2014: California’s minimum wage rose to $9 in June 2014. The graphic here contains the previous minimum wage of $8 an hour. This article has been updated to reflect the vote of the Chicago Minimum Wage task force.

Posted with permission from accountingschoolguide.com.

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  1. How does Illinois’ minimum wage compare to that of its neighbors? This infographic shows where Illinois stands and how it got there.
  2. Gov. Pat Quinn advocates for increasing the minimum wage in this interview with Chicago Sun-Times political writer Natasha Korecki. 
  3. Here’s the Congressional Budget Office report that says raising the federal minimum wage could slow job creation.
  4. The minimum wage and other issues could help drive Democratic voter turnout in November.