Friday, May 28, 2010

Survival rate better snapshot on poverty

Last week a front page story published by The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that to survive in Philadelphia without public assistance a family of four would need to earn $59,501.  That earnings number is up from $53,611 that was reported to be the "survival" pay scale in 2008. 

The report and the study behind it substantiate what we see here at Central Dallas Ministries.  Simply because a family is earning wages that places them above the artificially low federal poverty line (about $22,000 a year for a family of 4) does not mean that they can survive and certainly not thrive.  People without skills to earn a living wage need guidance and partners who will help them craft a plan for life that includes enhanced skills development, counsel about public benefits and encouragement from a community that regards them as neighbors and real friends. 

Here's how the Philadelphia report begins: 

Study: To survive, family of four needs nearly $60,000
By Alfred Lubrano
Inquirer Staff Writer

To survive in Philadelphia without food stamps or other government assistance, a family of four needs to make nearly $60,000 a year - a hard-to-fathom "sticker-shock" number that shows how expensive life has become.

According to a study being released Thursday, two adults with one preschooler and one school-age child have to take in $59,501 a year to live on a bare-bones budget in the city. In 2008, the same family of four needed $53,611 to make it in Philadelphia.

That's the word from the Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania, a highly respected University of Washington analysis that comes out every two years.

The problem is that nearly 62 percent of Philadelphia households take in less than $50,000 a year, according to census data analyzed by Dave Elesh, a sociologist at Temple University.

Life is pricier in the suburban counties, where the same-size family needs to take in even more money to survive without assistance. Salaries must range from $62,543 in Delaware County to $71,846 in Bucks County for a family to achieve self-sufficiency. A similar study for New Jersey in 2008 put the self-sufficiency incomes at $60,912 in Burlington County, $49,739 in Camden County, and $56,752 in Gloucester County.

A family of four is considered poor if it makes $22,050 a year - the federal poverty level.

That measure, which has been used for nearly 50 years, has long been criticized as failing to take a full measure of what it costs to live in America.

To read the full story click here.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Move ... really? That's all you got. Philly has 1.55 million people. It says 62% live on less than $50K. That's almost 1M people. And that's only Philly. NY, LA, Chicago, Houston, ... all probably have similiar levels of those who don't-really-make-it. So we're talking tens of millions of people. Where do you propose they move? Refugee camps? And is that going to be less expensive than (innumerable) other solutions?

So really ... move? Seriously. Stop writing without thinking .. at least just a little.

Anonymous said...

If the illegal aliens make it work, so can the rest of us.

I grew up in a no growth town. I've moved many times, always adding to my skill set at each stop. I'm not finished either and I will move again. There are many places where you don't need to make $50K to take care of 4 people. I've always thought it was common sense to move - if you can't increase your salary, reduce your costs.

So, I say it again. Move!

Anonymous said...

Another reason to avoid the liberal and union infested east and northeast population centers, where the cost of living is extremely high. Pumping more money into the area is not the answer - a regime change is in order

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