It's a bit easier to grasp the realities of living on minimum wage with the help of The New York Times' calculator. [Photo Illustration]

“Income inequality” is playing a larger role in public discourse these days — and not just in Chicago. New York City’s newly-sworn-in Mayor Bill de Blasio made it the cornerstone of his first State of the City address yesterday. That was just two weeks after President Obama’s State of the Union address, which drove home the fact that a growing number of Americans — some 4.8 million — are putting in full-time work but living like part-time earners.

There’s is plenty of public polling showing they’re preaching to the choir. Americans get it: The minimum wage is just too low to cover the basics. But as the gap between the rich and poor grows, it’s probably safe to say that getting by on the minimum wage is probably pretty abstract to wealthier Americans.

Enter the The New York Times. The paper created a nifty calculator — Can you live on the minimum wage? — that shows how many hours you would need to work each week at your state’s minimum wage to pay for the essentials you currently have — rent, food, transportation, health care, etc. Consider it your reality check for the week.

Headshot of Angela Caputo

Angela Caputo

is a staff reporter at The Chicago Reporter.