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Even a raised minimum wage in Austin wouldn't cut it, study says

Workers fight for a $15 minimum wage in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2016. (Fibonacci Blue)

Austin is one of the 25 least affordable U.S. cities for minimum wage workers—even if the minimum wage was bumped up to $15/hour, according to a study by

Living in Austin costs more than the $2,400/month income of full-time $15/hour employees and that's without adding to a savings account. Alongside Plano, the 13th least affordable city studied, Austin is also one of the only cities on the most expensive end to not have a local minimum wage higher than $7.25/hour.

The study analyzed 99 cities, all with a population of more than 250,000, and factored in average costs toward rent, utilities, income taxes, transportation and food. The study does not take car expenses, phone bills, loans, insurance or property taxes into account.

With rent skyrocketing to record median price levels month-after-month and a booming housing market, it's no surprise that Austin is around a thousand dollars more expensive a month than the cheapest U.S. city on the list—Albuquerque, New Mexico. In Laredo, Texas' least expensive city studied, residents can pocket as much as $774 after paying for living costs.

Move Buddha ranked the 25 most and least affordable cities for $15/hour wage workers, with Austin at No. 22 on the list. (

With the average rent in Austin at a record $1,442 a month (60% of a $15/hour workers' income), Austin joins the growing ranks of U.S. cities that can no longer follow the "minimum wage should be a living wage" mantra championed by worker's rights groups.

Austin's rapid-fire growth is still far from the six most expensive cities, all of which are in California. All but $39 of a minimum wage worker's salary in Irvine, which tops the list, would have to go toward rent. Unsurprisingly, San Jose, San Francisco, San Diego, Anaheim and Chula Vista follow suit.

But many cities and states on the list have already instituted wages near what the fight for $15 movement has been working toward for years. In California, which constitutes 11 of the 25 most expensive cities studied, the state minimum wage sits at $14/hour, and San Francisco's minimum wage is elevated to $16.32/hour. Seattle and New York have similar heightened wage rates.

Just as a federal minimum wage of $15/hour slowly edges closer to reality, it becomes more evident that living on that wage alone isn't feasible in many U.S. cities. According to a Harvard University study, a quarter of U.S. renters now spend 50% or more of their salary on rent. That's well above the recommended budget, which puts rent at a third of monthly costs.

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Comedy, live music, McConaughey Q&A: Events in Austin this weekend

💈 Finley’s Pop-up Barbershop

Experience luxury grooming the old-fashioned way at a revival of the Driskill Hotel’s early 1900s barbershop put on by Austin-based Finley’s. The pop-up will offer men’s haircuts, beard trims, hot towels, neck massages and straight razor shaves. Click here to book an appointment.

9 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday-Sunday | The Driskill Hotel, 604 Brazos St.

😂 Moontower Comedy Presents Hannah Gadsby

Catch veteran Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby touring with her newest show, “Body of Work,” written while she pondered the effects of the pandemic. Tickets are still available in the orchestra section, starting at $60.

Doors at 6 p.m. Friday | The Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave.

🎤 Rex Orange County Who Cares? Tour

Alexander James O'Connor, AKA Rex Orange County, is returning to Austin to perform his newest album, “Who Cares?” Tickets are still available starting at $49 each.

Doors at 7:30 p.m. Friday | Germania Insurance Amphitheater, 9201 Circuit of The Americas Blvd.

⚾️ Round Rock Express vs. El Paso Chihuahuas

Catch our local Minor League team play against the El Paso Chihuahuas at home this week. Tickets start at $22.

Starting 7:05 p.m. Friday | Dell Diamond, 3400 E Palm Valley Blvd.

🎶 Bleachers—The 2022 Tour

Enjoy a night of indie-pop from Grammy-winning producer Jack Antonoff, whose stage name is Bleachers, from the intimacy of Stubb’s. Tickets are still available starting at $33.

Starting 7:05 p.m. Saturday | Stubb's Waller Creek Amphitheater, 801 Red River St.

🎸 The Peterson Brothers with Latasha Lee

Catch the groovy, Bastrop-born brothers are taking their rightful place on stage with soulstress Latasha Lee at Antone’s. Arrive early, seating fills up quickly! The show is 21+ and tickets start at $15.

Doors at 7 p.m. Saturday | Antone's Nightclub, 305 E 5th St.

🤠 Emmanuel Acho and Matthew McConaughey Q&A

Famous former Longhorns Emmanuel Acho and Matthew McConaughey are joining forces for a Q&A about catching greenlights and living a limitless life. Each ticket will get the holder a copy of Acho’s new book, “Illogical: Saying Yes to a Life Without Limits.” Tickets are $39 per person.

1:15 p.m. Sunday | LBJ Auditorium, 2313 Red River St.

⚽️ Austin FC vs. Orlando City

Austin FC is facing off against Orlando City at the biggest party in Austin, Q2 Stadium. Tickets are still available starting at $65 but ticketless Verde fans can still support at one of the many Pub Clubs.

7 p.m. Sunday | Q2 Stadium, 10414 Mc Kalla Pl.

Austin FC wins big! Team makes history, takes No. 1 spot in 2-1 LAFC win

Over a year after its first loss, Austin FC was all smiles as it beat LAFC to take home the top MLS West spot Wednesday. (Austin FC/Twitter)

Over a year after they took the stage for the first time in Los Angeles, Austin FC returned to Banc of America Stadium to snatch the No. 1 spot from LAFC in a 2-1 statement win late Wednesday night.

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