New Report: Struggling to Make Ends Meet in Pennsylvania

Posted by on June 2, 2009

1 in 5 Pennsylvania households in economic crisis

One-fifth of the 3.4 million households in Pennsylvania lack adequate income to meet their basic needs, representing a large and diverse group of families experiencing distress.  That’s one of the findings from PathWays PA’s latest study of the economic needs of the state’s working families, Overlooked and Undercounted: Struggling to Make Ends Meet in Pennsylvania.

The first-ever study, done in partnership with the state Department of Labor and Industry, measured the number of families in economic distress using the Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania ( The Standard calculates the wages 70 different family configurations must earn to pay for basic necessities such as child care, nutritious food, adequate housing and health care in each of the state’s 67 counties.

Based on real market costs, the Standard provides a more accurate portrait of economic distress than federal poverty guidelines, which are based only on food costs. More than half of the households with incomes below the Self-Sufficiency Standard earn more than the 2009 federal poverty level of $14,570 for a single parent and a preschooler and $22,050 for a family of four.

“Many federal and state economic policies and programs address only those with incomes below or near the federal poverty level, which has created a large and diverse group of families who are routinely overlooked even though they are experiencing economic distress,” said Carol Goertzel, President and CEO of PathWays PA. “These families are not considered in talks about how to support citizens in economic distress. They are falling through the cracks.”

According to the study, only six percent of the households with inadequate income receive public cash assistance and 75 percent spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Nearly two-thirds have children.

To download a copy of the report, click here.

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