Just how much constitutes a living wage? Minimum wage certainly doesn’t cut it.  Since 2009, the federal minimum wage has stood at $7.25 an hour – though some states pay less and a few paid more.   But if you were paid the federal minimum and were lucky enough to get 40 hours of work a week, you’d gross a whopping $290 for that week’s work… and if you never took a day off, you’d gross an annual income of $15,080.

For a family of two, that qualifies you as earning less than the federal poverty limit.

In a nutshell, corporations that don’t pay their employees a living wage are costing the American taxpayers billions of dollars each year, as those employees need subsidies to survive.  It’s a vicious circle and only the rich are getting richer while the rest of us struggle to make ends meet.

This morning on the show, I spoke with Elizabeth Parisian, policy director at Stand Up! Chicago,  who’s been working with the Fight for 15 campaign to push for a raise to $15 an hour for retail and fast food workers in Chicago.

The sad fact is that many jobs available today would not provide for adequate support of even one person, let alone a family.  And it’s not only in the fast food and retail sectors.  I just completed a course and am in the process of getting certified as a substitute teacher here in Broward County, Florida.  During the class, the teacher talked about the fact that the pay is good.

Really?  It pays $85 a day.  For an 8-hour day, that comes out to slightly more than $10 per hour.  Granted, it’s better than $7.25 (or $7.49, minimum wage here in FL as of 1/1/13), but not much.

Hopefully, tonight during his State of the Union address, President Obama will talk about not only the need for jobs, but the need for well-paying jobs and a much higher minimum wage.

If you’re on twitter as I am, you’ve likely recently noticed a lot of tweets with the #uniteblue hashtage, or perhaps a twibbon of  interlocking Ds logo.  

Well, Zach Green is the founder of Unite Blue, and he joined me on the show this morning to talk about this unique and rapidly growing group of left-leaning tweeters.

And finally, with Presidents Day weekend rapidly approaching, I pulled out an interview I did with 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben in December in which he told us about this weekend’s Forward on Climate rally in DC.  If you can get there, you should!