$58,000: The Price of Economic Security for an American Family

More

What does it take to make ends meet in the U.S.? If you're a household with two young children, meeting basic needs like housing, utilities and food requires a salary three times the federal poverty line and nearly four times the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

A single worker with two young children needs an annual income of $58,000, or $27 an hour, to attain economic stability, Motoko Rich writes in his review of a new study from the nonprofit group Wider Opportunities for Women.

Here's the striking graph from the New York Times:


what it takes to survive.png
If $27 an hour buys a family economic security in the U.S., consider that the average hourly wage across the economy sits just under $23 -- and it hasn't moved more than cent in 3 months.

The long end of the recession is backing up against a rapid global increase in food and energy costs, driven by the global recovery in demand. Flat salaries plus the rising cost of essential equals a summer of discontent for the U.S. consumer. Considering that food and transportation account for about 20% of the average family's costs, this represents another headwind blowing back the typical American family just as their home values have begun to stabilize at a new normal.


Economy-watchers can find more reason to worry when they peruse the BLS's survey of the fastest growing jobs in the next 10 years. Some of the fastest growing sectors -- especially in retail, food services and health care -- consistently pay way below the economic security line.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Remote Warehouse Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Video

The Origins of Bungee Jumping

"We had this old potato sack and I filled it up with rocks and dropped it over the side. It just hit the water, split, dropping all the stones. And that was our test."

Video

Is Trading Stocks for Suckers?

If you think you’re smarter than the stock market, you’re probably either cheating or wrong

Video

I Spent Half My Life Making a Video Game

How a childhood hobby became a labor of love

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In