Study Recognizes the Overlooked and Undercounted

A new report finds that one in four Pennsylvania households is living below the self-sufficiency standard.  Pathways PA calls that standard the true cost of living, and they’ve crunched the numbers county-by-county. 

“We look at the cost of food, transportation, health care, housing and child care as well as miscellaneous costs,” explains senior policy director Marianne Bellesorte.  “Using publicly verifiable data we’re able to determine how much – at minimum – a family would need to make ends meet.” 

For instance, in Dauphin County, a one adult household would need to earn $19,000 dollars a year to meet the self-sufficiency standard.  Add an infant, and that number would increase to $34,000 dollars.  Child care is generally a household’s biggest expense, according to Bellesorte. 

The new report finds that 25% of PA families live below the standard, up from 20% in 2007.  The highest numbers can be found in Philadelphia (42%); the lowest in Adams County (17%). 

The report’s called Overlooked and Undercounted: How the Great Recession Impacted Household Self-Sufficiency in Pennsylvania.  “The people who are overlooked and undercounted are people who are above the federal poverty level, but are below the self-sufficiency standard,” Bellesorte explains. 

Pathways PA wants policymakers to pay attention, and take action that leads to adequate work.  Bellesorte says nearly 4 in 5 of the households below the standard have at least one adult the workforce.