Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

How Garment Workers Decided $104.72 a Month Was A Living Wage

Monday, after a week of protests, Bangladesh's garment manufacturers agreed to increase the minimum wage for workers in the industry. But they haven't agreed on how much it will be.

The garment workers are asking for $104.72 a month, which would more than double the current minimum. To get to that number, they created a monthly budget that, they figure, is the bare minimum.

Rubana Mohammadi who runs a few garment factories, has argued that if the union gets the increase they're asking for, the price of a Bangladeshi-made T-shirt could increase by 20 cents. That would make it harder for Bangladesh to compete with other countries among buyers who are looking for the lowest possible price. Vietnam, a competitor to Bangladesh's garment industry, has a minimum wage that ranges from$80 to $112 a month, depending on what part of the country the factory is in.

We'll have lots more about Bangladesh's garment industry in the next few months, as part of Planet Money's T-shirt project. In the mean time, keep track of our progress on the project's Tumblr.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit

Caitlin Kenney
Zoe Chace
Zoe Chace explains the mysteries of the global economy for NPR's Planet Money. As a reporter for the team, Chace knows how to find compelling stories in unlikely places, including a lollipop factory in Ohio struggling to stay open, a pasta plant in Italy where everyone calls in sick, and a recording studio in New York mixing Rihanna's next hit.
Quoctrung Bui