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The 10 worst cities for minimum-wage workers

An employee prepares a bag containing a customer's food order inside a Burger King fast food restaurant in Moscow, Russia.
Andrey Rudakov | Bloomberg Getty Images

Living off $7.25 an hour, the current federal minimum wage, is hard.

In the decade since the federal wage floor was last raised, these workers have lost almost 10% of their purchasing power, after adjusting for inflation, according to the Pew Research Center. And compared to their counterparts working 50 years ago they fare even worse, earning 29% less for their efforts according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Maybe that's why a majority of voters across both political parties support raising the federal minimum wage. In a recent Hill-HarrisX poll, 55% of registered voters said they support raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, while another 27% felt it should be increased by a smaller amount.

EPI estimates that had the minimum wage kept pace with labor productivity growth since 1968, it would be more than $20 an hour currently. Instead, despite efforts in Congress to set the minimum wage at $15 an hour and the choice by many cities and states to set their own higher rates, the federal minimum wage it remains at the level set back in 2009.

Depending on local laws and a city's cost of living, some minimum-wage workers may be feeling the pain of their limited earnings more acutely — and it might not be in the locations you'd expect.

CNBC Make It collected data on the minimum wage in the 75 largest U.S. cities, by population, and paired that with EPI's research into the cost of living in each of those areas to to find out where workers without children will be hardest-pressed to afford rent, utilities, food, transportation, healthcare, taxes and other basic necessities.

Some of these cost of living estimates may appear high at first glance, but many places with cheaper rent do require a car to get around in, while larger, typically more expensive, cities tend to have greater public transit options, and taxes can vary significantly between locations.

Surprisingly, big coastal cities like San Francisco and New York, infamous for their sky-high costs of living, aren't the worst offenders, thanks to $15 minimum wage rate hikes. Instead, smaller cities experiencing population and industry growth top the list, largely because their cost of living has increased while the minimum wage remains $7.25.

Below are the 10 cities that are hardest to live in for minimum-wage earners, as well as how many hours of work would be required to afford typical monthly expenses in those places:

10. Fort Worth, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas.
Jeremy Woodhouse | Getty Images

Hourly minimum wage: $7.25
Hours you'd need to work each week to afford adequate standard of living: 103.2
Total monthly costs: $2,994
-Housing: $736
-Transportation: $806
-Taxes: $435

9. New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans' French Quarter
Anne Rippy | Getty Images

Hourly minimum wage: $7.25
Hours you'd need to work each week to afford adequate standard of living: 103.3
Total monthly costs: $2,996
-Housing: $708
-Transportation: $754
-Taxes: $496

8. Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville skyline at dusk
John Greim | LightRocket | Getty Images

Hourly minimum wage: $7.25
Hours you'd need to work each week to afford adequate standard of living: 106
Total monthly costs: $3,074
-Housing: $731
-Transportation: $827
-Taxes: $450

7. Honolulu, Hawaii
Buyenlarge | Getty Images

Hourly minimum wage: $10.10
Hours you'd need to work each week to afford adequate standard of living:106.3
Total monthly costs: $4,296
-Housing: $1,261
-Transportation: $786
-Taxes: $896

6. Greensboro, North Carolina
Sean Pavone | Getty Images

Hourly minimum wage: $7.25
Hours you'd need to work each week to afford adequate standard of living: 106.7
Total monthly costs: $3,095
-Housing: $625
-Transportation: $800
-Taxes: $554

5. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
 A general view of Philadelphia City Hall from Market Street.
Paul Marotta | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

Hourly minimum wage: $7.25
Hours you'd need to work each week to afford adequate standard of living: 110
Total monthly costs: $3,191
-Housing: $824
-Transportation: $746
-Taxes: $537

4. Raleigh, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina
Sean Pavone | Getty Images

Hourly minimum wage: $7.25
Hours you'd need to work each week to afford adequate standard of living: 115.7
Total monthly costs: $3,354
-Housing: $741
-Transportation: $872
-Taxes: $612

3. Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta reflected in the lake of Piedmont Park.
Giorgio Fochesato | Getty Images

Hourly minimum wage: $7.25*
Hours you'd need to work each week to afford adequate standard of living: 116.2
Total monthly costs: $3,371
-Housing: $873
-Transportation: $817
-Taxes: $621

* $5.15 is Georgia's state minimum wage, but most workers are covered under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and are subject to the federal minimum wage.

2. Virginia Beach, Virginia
Locals enjoy the waterfront in Virginia Beach
Daniel Slim | Getty Images

Hourly minimum wage: $7.25
Hours you'd need to work each week to afford adequate standard of living: 117.8
Total monthly costs: $3,415
-Housing: $907
-Transportation: $765
-Taxes: $626

1. Charlotte, North Carolina
An aerial view of Uptown Charlotte North Carolina.
Streeter Lecka | Getty Images

Hourly minimum wage: $7.25
Hours you'd need to work each week to afford adequate standard of living: 118.2
Total monthly costs: $3,427
-Housing: $777
-Transportation: $818
-Taxes: $627

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