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Working Definitions of Wage Levels

The following are the working definitions of wage levels that CREA uses to describe the purchasing power that workers are able to earn.  Agreement on these definitions could be helpful to discussions about wages.

Level 1: Marginal Survival Wage

Wage level does not provide for adequate nutritional needs.  Starvation is prevented, but malnutrition, illnesses, and early deaths are the result. 

Level 2: Basic Survival Wage

Wage level allows for meeting immediate survival needs including basic food, used 
clothing, minimal shelter, fuel for cooking.

Level 3: Short Range Planning Wage 


Wage level meets basic survival needs. 
Possibility of small amount of discretionary income allows for minimal planning beyond living from paycheck to paycheck.


Allows for occasional purchase of needed item(s) as small amounts can be set aside after basic survival needs

Level 4: Sustainable Living Wage


Wage level meets basic needs including food, clothing, housing, energy, transportation, health care, and education. Ability to participate in culturally required activities (including births and related celebrations,  weddings, funerals and related activities).
Also allows for the setting aside of small amounts of money (savings) to allow planning for the future purchase of items and the meeting of needs.


In addition to meeting basic needs and allowing the worker to set aside money for future purchases, allows for the availability of enough discretionary income to allow the worker to support the development of small businesses in a local community, including the support of cultural and civic needs of the community. Wage levels allow for long range planning and participation.

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