Thursday, July 18, 2013

Economic Security out of Reach for Many Wisconsin Families

How much money does a family need to be economically secure in Appleton, Wisconsin? How about Eau Claire? Janesville? These questions can be answered by a new family budget calculator, developed by the Economic Policy Institute.

The family budget estimated by EPI includes expenses for:
  • food;
  • child care;
  • transportation;
  • health care;
  • other necessities; and
  • taxes.
The EPI calculator quantifies the income levels families need to achieve a “secure yet modest living standard.” The table below shows the income amounts needed for different family sizes in different Wisconsin locations:

Unfortunately, these income levels are out of reach for many Wisconsin families. A large number of workers, particularly in Milwaukee, earn poverty wages and have incomes that fall far below the levels needed to achieve economic security, according to a recent report from the Center on Wisconsin Strategy. The family budget calculator shows that a one parent, one child family in the Milwaukee area would need to work full time at $24.50 an hour in order to make ends meet -- yet one out of four workers in the region earn poverty wages of $11.19 or less, according to the COWS report.

Too many Wisconsin families are not achieving the standard of economic security. The growth of low-wage jobs, both nationally and in Wisconsin, puts the goal of economic security out of reach for many families. In order to climb up to the middle class, workers need solid jobs that pay family-supporting wages.

Tamarine Cornelius

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