$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)

A Technicolor Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier


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

What Do You Wish You Learned in College?

Ivy League academics reveal their undergrad regrets

Video

Famous Movies, Reimagined

From Apocalypse Now to The Lord of the Rings, this clever video puts a new spin on Hollywood's greatest hits.

Video

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In