M. Spencer Green / AP
Anyone who’s ever worked for minimum wage knows that it’s tough make ends meet on $7.25 an hour. A new economic index, released Friday, attempts to show just how tough.
The Basic Economic Security Tables finds that a single worker would have to make around $30,012 a year, or nearly double the annual salary you’d earn working full-time for minimum wage, to meet their basic expenses.
A single parent raising two children would require an annual wage of $57,756, according to the report, while a household with two income earners and two kids needs $67,920.
The index was developed by Wider Opportunities for Women, a nonprofit that focuses on ways for families and women to achieve economic independence. Its measure of basic expenses includes day-to-day costs such as childcare, housing, health care and transportation, as well as long-term needs such as savings and retirement.
“We wanted to recognize that there was a cumulative impact that would affect one’s lifelong economic security,” Joan A. Kuriansky, executive director of Wider Opportunities for Women, told The New York Times in a story published Friday. “And we’ve all seen how often we have emergencies that we are unprepared for,” she told the Times, especially during the recession. Layoffs or other health crises “can definitely begin to draw us into poverty.”
According to the Census Bureau, the median household income in 2009 was $49,777.
The Census Bureau also reported that the poverty rate hit 14.3 percent in 2009, the highest level since 1994.
Researchers on both sides of the ideological fence have long argued that the poverty rate is a poor measure of how Americans earning low wages are really faring. Liberal-leaning analysts often say the data understate the extent to which Americans are suffering to make ends meet, while some conservatives worry the data overstate the issue.