Sustainability is not just about the environment.

The three pillars, or domains, of sustainability are social, economic, and environmental. Economic sustainability begins with economic equity and viability of families. For a family unit of a parent, spouse, and two kids, a living wage is the amount of income estimated to be necessary to meet their basic needs. It does not include buffers for medical or legal expenses, tuition for higher education, or other prosperity-based expenditures.

In Washington County, a living wage for a couple (one working, one stay-at-home) with two kids is $23.78 per hour, according to the MIT Living Wage Calculator. The living wage for a single person in Washington County is $10.65 per hour. Take a look at the calculator to see the cost of living breakdown for the county.

A living wage is associated with the cost of living in a place. The most expensive locations to live in the US, such as Manhattan and Hawaii, have a living wage rate higher per hour. Many community programs can dramatically affect these costs, such as support for public transit, childcare, health care, and education.

I am proud that my community in the Cherokee Nation has focused on these issues, and am also proud that the City of Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas are working together to identify and enhance critical basic services to our community. While we are still struggling to increase entry pay rates statewide, the benefits our employees receive, including health care and tuition discounts, create additional value for our community. For the University of Arkansas, paying a living wage is a sustainability priority.

Click here to learn more about how social justice relates to sustainability.

Living wage statistics last updated July 30, 2019.