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Christopher Hytry Derrington

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What $25/Hr Wages Will Buy in Rural America

Posted: 03/ 1/2012 9:00 am

A while back, some people had some negative comments about articles a fellow team member wrote for the Huffington Post's Small Business Section about wages paid by some US outsourcing companies. They accused companies, such as Rural America OnShore Outsourcing, of paying their employees "peanuts" and "slave wages," in order to compete with offshore outsourcing firms. They implied - harshly - that our team members' salaries "couldn't possibly be enough to live on."

We realized these were likely just reactionary comments by people who did not actually live in a small, rural community - as most of the RAOO team members do - but we decided to put our claims to the test with something other than just personal stories. We know, for example, that in the town where our corporate headquarters resides, we can go out to the local supper club tonight and get a great steak with all the fixings for less than $20, around $15 for prime rib when it's the special of the night. That's at least half of what someone would pay in Chicago. Top it off with a pint of beer for about $2.50 (rather than $5 or $6 in Chicago) - that's a pretty cheap night on the town.

But, we wanted to back up these stories with a little research.

So I asked two of my Rural America colleagues, Julie Berglund and Karen Johnson, to share their results.

Working in Rural America
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To start with, we read's "We are the Median" series. This helped us put money into perspective, and it also told us that where you live can be just as important as how you live. So, we used the cost of living calculator at to plug in our location and salary, and discovered what we needed to earn to maintain the same standard of living in other areas of the US.
Thus, we began our journey into the 'national median household income' — approximately $50,000 (or $25/hr.) — and how it works for rural Americans.
Simply using three sample states in which we operate – Wisconsin, Ohio and Kentucky – we found that $25 per hour will go further in any area of those states than in a major urban area such as Los Angeles or Chicago.
Let's bring it down to a daily basis: What can you get with that $25 you earned in an hour – or $50,000 a year – in rural America?


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