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.