Living wage

If you’re struggling to make ends meet, you might wonder just what is considered a living wage. Enter the Living Wage Calculator on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology website, which lists estimates for every county in the United States.

See how you think MIT’s numbers match up with reality. The figures are the same for both Catoosa and Walker County.

Wages: A living wage for one adult is $10.94 an hour or $22,759 a year before taxes. For two adults with two children, it’s $14.76 an hour or $61,408 a year.

Food: Operating on a low-cost budget one adult should be able to keep up his or her strength with $57 worth of food a week. Our two adult/two children family would need $169 a week to keep their tummies from rumbling.

Housing: If you’re just one person, you only need a little place, so $562 a month should do it for you. (If you buy instead of renting, you might be able to get a bigger place, but then you’d have expenses like repairs, insurance and taxes.) For our family of four, you’re looking at $822 a month for the luxury of an extra bedroom or two.

Transportation: This one includes financing, fuel, maintenance and insurance. One adult: $353 a month. Family: A whopping $919 a month.

Medical: $201 a month for Mr./Miss Hasn’t Found a Soul Mate yet and $608 a month for Mr. and Mrs. Didn’t Know Kids Could Cost So Much.

Other: This includes clothing, toiletries, stuff to clean the house and, oddly, a category called “Reading” (it’s probably an MIT thing). One adult will absolutely need $221 a month. Our family will need $505 a month.

Childcare: One adult/no child (singleness is about to look better): zero. The family (as-suming no helpful relatives): $688 a month.

To explore more categories (2 adults/no kids, 1 adult/3 kids and all sorts of other combina-tions) and to compare numbers with counties all over the U.S., visit livingwage.mit.edu.