What Hourly Wage Is Considered “Competitive” In Montana?
We see the signs all over town, in almost every business window, and they all say the same thing: "Hiring with competitive wages." So I got to wondering, "What does 'competitive wage' actually mean?"
In most towns, it always seemed like 25 bucks an hour was pretty decent. In fact, I remember at one point in life I thought if you made $25 an hour, you were rich. And to be fair, this wasn't that long ago.
But here in Bozeman, $25 an hour is not nearly enough to allow you to have a comfortable life. Not if you are a home with one income, pay rent, have a car payment, or like to be able to buy groceries and gas every week. It's hard to fathom that making under $50k a year is "not good enough" to survive.
So I asked the people of Montana, "What is a good competitive wage?" Basically, what would you need to get by and have a few bucks left over? Well, the people of Montana answered and let me say, I feel bad for business owners.
Most people said that they would consider getting $30-$35 an hour to be a decent start but would need to make closer to $40 to live comfortably. It seems so insane, but the reality is, if you take into account all of the expenses of living here, $40 dollars an hour is what you would need. Unless of course you have roommates or a second income coming in to help with bills.
How are small businesses or even big box stores supposed to compete with those expectations? They can't. That's why you see "HIRING" sings all over. It's nearly impossible for businesses to pay what people need to make. I feel bad for these places that can't find workers because the most they can offer is $15-$18 an hour. It's a good wage, but it's not good enough to survive in Bozeman, that's for sure.