Poverty Measurement – California

Why does California have nation’s highest poverty level?, By Dan Walters, August 17, 2017, Modesto Bee: “With all the recent hoopla about California’s record-low unemployment rate and the heady prospect of its becoming No. 5 in global economic rankings, it is easy to lose sight of another salient fact: It is the nation’s most poverty-stricken state. So says the U.S. Census Bureau in its ‘supplemental measure’ of poverty, which is more accurate than the traditional measure because it takes into account not only income, but living costs…”

Cost of Living for the Urban Poor

To cut down poverty, cut down the cost of living, By Laura Bliss, August 4, 2016, City Lab: “Proportionally speaking, Americans living in poverty pay more for basic necessities. On energy bills, the poorest 20 percent of Americans spend more than seven times the share of their income than do the wealthiest. Dividing American incomes into three, households in the bottom third spend twice the portion of their incomes on transportation than the top third. High housing costs are hurting everyone—but they’re hurting poor Americans the most…”

Living Wage by Region

These are the hardest places for minimum wage workers to live, By Ana Swanson September 14, 2015, Washington Post: “You might have a rough sense that workers who earn the minimum wage in America aren’t making enough to cover the cost of a decent living. But how big is that gap really? A professor at MIT created a new interactive map that shows where it’s hardest for those earning the minimum wage to get by. Amy Glasmeier created a tool called ‘The Living Wage Calculator,’ which shows the hourly rate that an individual needs to earn to support their family for every county in the country…”

UK Cost of Living and Poor Households

300,000 more people live in poverty than previously thought, study finds, By Larry Elliott, November 4, 2014, The Guardian: “The number of people living in dire poverty in Britain is 300,000 more than previously thought due to poorer households facing a higher cost of living than the well off, according to a study released on Wednesday. A report produced by the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that soaring prices for food and fuel over the past decade have had a bigger impact on struggling families who spend more of their budgets on staple goods. By contrast, richer households had been the beneficiaries of the drop in mortgage rates and lower motoring costs…”

Poverty and Living Standards in the US

Changed life of the poor: better off, but far behind, By Annie Lowrey, April 30, 2014, New York Times: “Is a family with a car in the driveway, a flat-screen television and a computer with an Internet connection poor? Americans — even many of the poorest — enjoy a level of material abundance unthinkable just a generation or two ago. That indisputable economic fact has become a subject of bitter political debate this year, half a century after President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a war on poverty…”

College Students and Food Insecurity

More college students battle hunger as education and living costs rise, By Tara Bahrampour, April 9, 2014, Washington Post: “When Paul Vaughn, an economics major, was in his third year at George Mason University, he decided to save money by moving off campus. He figured that skipping the basic campus meal plan, which costs $1,575 for 10 meals a week each semester, and buying his own food would make life easier. But he had trouble affording the $50 a week he had budgeted for food and ended up having to get two jobs to pay for it…”

Social Security Benefits

Social Security raise to be lowest in years, By Stephen Ohlemacher, October 13, 2013, USA Today: “For the second straight year, millions of Social Security recipients, disabled veterans and federal retirees can expect historically small increases in their benefits come January. Preliminary figures suggest a benefit increase of roughly 1.5%, which would be among the smallest since automatic increases were adopted in 1975, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.Next year’s raise will be small because consumer prices, as measured by the government, haven’t gone up much in the past year…”

Poverty in New Jersey

  • Poverty in N.J. reaches 52-year high, new report shows, By Brent Johnson, September 8, 2013, Star-Ledger: “Poverty in New Jersey continued to grow even as the national recession lifted, reaching a 52-year high in 2011, according to a report released today. The annual survey by Legal Services of New Jersey found 24.7 percent of the state’s population — 2.1 million residents — was considered poor in 2011. That’s a jump of more than 80,000 people — nearly 1 percent higher than the previous year and 3.8 percent more than pre-recession levels…”
  • Poverty hitting 50-year highs in N.J., By Alfred Lubrano, September 8, 2013, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Poverty in New Jersey has reached levels not seen in 50 years, as more than two million people from Sussex to Cape May Counties founder in a deepening struggle to keep themselves and their families fed, housed, and healthy. The troubling findings, part of a report spotlighting poverty in 2011, were released Sunday by Legal Services of New Jersey’s Poverty Research Institute. The report is called ‘Poverty Benchmarks 2013…'”

Self-Sufficiency Standard – California

  • Report: Bay Area cost of living up 18 percent since 2008, By Matt O’Brien, October 4, 2011, Contra Costa Times: “By one measure, the cost of living for Bay Area families soared 18 percent since the onset of the recession in 2008. As wages remained stagnant and more residents lost their jobs, the price of rental housing, transportation, child care and other basic needs kept rising, according to an Oakland-based national research group that wants California to overhaul how it measures the economic well-being of its residents…”
  • Report: Basic cost of living soars in Bay Area, By Carolyn Said, October 5, 2011, San Francisco Chronicle: “Raju and Simmi Kumar were busy Tuesday afternoon arranging multihued shawls, skirts, handbags and tablecloths imported from their native India in their new Mission District store, Simmi Boutique. ‘We want to help the poor people back in India who work for us to make these beautiful things,’ Raju Kumar said. Here in the United States, their family of five – they have three children, ages 13, 14 and 19 – struggles to make ends meet also. ‘It’s very tight, let me tell you,’ he said. ‘We never, ever go out, we always cook all three meals at home. But expenses are going all the way up.’ A report released Tuesday underscored how the Kumar family reflects the realities of the working poor. According to a formula called the Self-Sufficiency Standard, a family of four (with two adults, one preschooler and one school-age child) in the nine-county Bay Area now needs $74,341 a year to get by, compared with $62,517 three years ago…”

Poverty Rates in Oil-Producing Counties – North Dakota

Many live in poverty in oil country due to high rent, food prices, By Teri Finneman, August 14, 2011, Dickinson Press: “In one of the state’s wealthiest counties, the line of people waiting for the food pantry to open shows another side of the state’s oil boom story. The oil and gas industry has contributed to the state’s nationally known prosperity and created high-paying jobs in western North Dakota. But those who don’t make oilfield wages face the boom’s negative side effects, including the increasing cost of rent, services and goods. ‘I think the common misconception is that since we are in what most people call ‘oil country,’ that everybody is wealthy,’ said Holly Flatau of the Great Plains Food Bank in Fargo. ‘What it’s actually caused is a greater gap in those that are wealthy and those who are not. It’s harder for people that aren’t wealthy to make it on their own…'”

World Food Prices and Poor Nations

Food prices set to stay high, says UN food agency, June 7, 2011, BBC News: “Global food prices will remain high and volatile throughout this year and into next despite record food production. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) twice yearly Food Outlook analysis says rising demand will absorb most of the higher output. It says its index of food prices in May was at 232, only five points below February’s record high of 237. The FAO says higher food prices could mean poor countries will see food import costs rise by up to 30%. That would mean them spending 18% of their total import bills on food this year, compared with the world average of 7%. The organisation says the next few months will be critical in determining how major crops will fare this year…”

Minimum Wage and Economic Security – Michigan

New study: You can’t live on minimum wage, By L.L. Brasier, May 30, 2011, Detroit Free Press: “Cameo Thomas of Jackson works two jobs as a nursing home aide to support her 4-year-old twin sons. One job pays $9.50 an hour, the other $13.05. Sometimes she works 60 hours a week to make ends meet — hard physical labor, most of it on her feet. ‘Sometimes I get off work and think, ‘Man, I’m going to need a new pair of shoes,” the 23-year-old said. Working harder and longer may not be enough to support a family in Michigan, particularly for employees in low-paying jobs such as retail sales, clerical work and home health care, according to a new study released today…”

Housing Affordability

  • Minnesota rental affordability worst in Midwest, May 3, 2011, Alexandria Echo Press: “According to a national report released Monday, a Minnesota family must have 2.2 minimum wage earners working full-time – or one person working 87 hours per week at minimum wage- to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment in Minnesota. Of the 12 states in the Midwest, Minnesota ranks the worst for rental affordability among low-wage workers. The report, Out of Reach 2011, was jointly released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), a Washington, D.C.-based housing policy organization, and for Minnesota, the Minnesota Housing Partnership. The report provides housing affordability data for every state, metro area, and county in the country…”
  • N.J. rental costs among highest in the nation, By Sarah Portlock, May 3, 2011, Star-Ledger: “A household in New Jersey must earn at least $51,044 annually – the fifth-highest amount in the nation – to be able to afford rent and utilities for a ‘safe and modest’ two-bedroom rental property, according to a study released yesterday. Statewide, a typical renter earns about $32,905, according to the report, which was released by two housing advocacy groups. The fair market rent for a two bedroom-apartment in New Jersey is $1,276, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the report found New Jersey families are paying much more than the recommended 30 percent of income on housing and utilities…”
  • Harvard report finds housing ‘affordability crisis’, By Megan Woolhouse, May 3, 2011, Boston Globe: “Philip Frabetti wants to move his wife and two children out of their cramped apartment in the North End, but finding a bigger place that’s affordable has been difficult. Frabetti, a project manager at Fidelity Investments, said the asking rents of $2,500 or more a month in Newton, Arlington, and Belmont would eat up at least half of his monthly income…”
  • Typical renter can’t afford one-bedroom apartment in Seattle, By Aubrey Cohen, May 2, 2011, Seattle Post-Intelligencer: “The typical renter in the Seattle-Bellevue area could afford a one-bedroom apartment a year ago but just a studio now, according to a new report. That’s because that renter is earning 5.1 percent less, while fair market rents compiled by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development have risen 11.3 percent, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s annual ‘Out of Reach’ report. This means the typical renter would have to work 44 hours a week, with no vacation or sick days, to pay for a one-bedroom apartment (up from 37 hours a week in 2010)…”

Basic Economic Security

Beyond ‘surviving’: Defining economic security, April 14, 2011, National Public Radio: “As President Obama and members of Congress debate national budgets, Shawn McMahon has been calculating individual and family budgets. He’s the research director for Wider Opportunities for Women, a group that works with low-income women and families. The nonprofit group just released its Basic Economic Security Tables index, which measures the minimum income workers need to achieve basic economic security…”

Low-Wage Jobs and Economic Security

Many low-wage jobs seen as failing to meet basic needs, By Motoko Rich, March 31, 2011, New York Times: “Hard as it can be to land a job these days, getting one may not be nearly enough for basic economic security. The Labor Department will release its monthly snapshot of the job market on Friday, and economists expect it to show that the nation’s employers added about 190,000 jobs in March. With an unemployment rate that has been stubbornly stuck near 9 percent, those workers could be considered lucky. But many of the jobs being added in retail, hospitality and home health care, to name a few categories, are unlikely to pay enough for workers to cover the cost of fundamentals like housing, utilities, food, health care, transportation and, in the case of working parents, child care. A separate report being released Friday tries to go beyond traditional measurements like the poverty line and minimum wage to show what people need to earn to achieve a basic standard of living…”

World Food Prices

Soaring food prices send millions into poverty, hunger, By John Waggoner, March 17, 2011, USA Today: “Corn has soared 52% the past 12 months. Sugar’s up 60%. Soybeans have jumped 41%. And wheat costs 24% more than it did a year ago. For about 44 million people – roughly the population of the New York, Los Angeles and Chicago metropolitan areas combined – the rise in food prices means a descent into extreme poverty and hunger, according to the World Bank. The surge in food prices has many causes. Rising population. Speculators. Soaring oil prices. Trade policies. And, ironically, improved standards of living in emerging nations. By itself, the soaring cost of food didn’t cause the political unrest in the Middle East and elsewhere. Those tensions have been building for a long time. But higher food prices amplify those tensions…”

World Food Prices

Food prices reach record high, By Caroline Henshaw, March 3, 2011, Wall Street Journal: “World food prices rose 2.2% in February from the previous month to a record peak, the United Nations’ food body said Thursday, as it warned that volatility in oil markets could push prices even higher. The Food and Agriculture Organization price index rose by 2.2%-the eighth consecutive rise since June-to an average of 236 points last month, the highest record in real and nominal terms since the agency started monitoring prices in 1990. Global cereal supplies are also expected to tighten sharply this year due low stock levels, the FAO said. The body raised its estimate for world cereal production in 2010 by eight million metric tons from its December estimate to 2.2 billion tons but said it expects that to be outpaced by an 18 million-ton increase in world consumption. But while the world isn’t yet facing a food crisis, the secretary of the FAO’s Intergovernmental Group on Grains, Abdolreza Abbassian, said the recent rise in Brent oil prices to above $120 a barrel could create the same potent mix of factors that pushed grain prices to record highs three years ago…”

UN Food Price Index

Rising global food prices squeeze the world’s poor, By Ben Arnoldy, February 10, 2011, Christian Science Monitor: “Amid the stalls of neatly stacked vegetables at this city’s Sarojini Market, Manju shops with her young granddaughter. Her bags have become lighter in recent months, as she’s cutting back on the basics. Food prices have risen sharply over the past year and Manju is even going with fewer onions, the ubiquitous ingredient that fills just about every Indian gravy dish. ‘The kids have stopped eating properly,’ she says. ‘They have lost the taste for food and are complaining.’ Families in many parts of the world – especially India, China, Mexico, Haiti, and Egypt, where food costs spiked in the past year – are making sacrifices and seeking alternatives. The United Nations Food and Agri­cultural Organization (FAO) food price index hit an all-time high in December. This sparked concern that high prices just prior to the global recession could reflect longer-term structural changes in supply and demand that will imperil the poor’s ability to eat…”

Poverty Measurement and the Elderly – California

For the elderly, poverty level doesn’t cut it, By Alexandra Zavis, October 17, 2010, Los Angeles Times: “At the age of 80, Exaltacion Divinagracia thought that life would be easier. The petite widow still works part time at a nursery school. To keep the house she rented with her late husband, she has taken six roommates, all over 75. After church on Saturdays and Sundays, she drags a beat-up suitcase from one food pantry to the next in search of enough to eat for the coming week. Divinagracia takes home less than $13,000 a year, including public benefits. But according to the government’s income standards, she is not impoverished. To get that designation a single person must live on $10,830 a year or less. Experts say the standard – which is used nationwide to assess need, determine eligibility for aid and measure the effectiveness of public programs – has little to do with reality, particularly in places like Los Angeles, where housing costs are high. A recent UCLA study found that most older Californians, those 65 or older, need at least twice the income calculated by the federal government to make ends meet – $21,763 a year on average for a single person renting a one-bedroom apartment, or $30,634 for a couple…”

Report: Cost of Living – California

  • Budget project issues ‘Making Ends Meet’ report, By Tom Abate, June 25, 2010, San Francisco Chronicle: “A single adult must earn nearly $32,000 to live in San Francisco, while two working parents with two young children must take in a little more than $84,000 to get by, according to an analysis released Thursday by a public policy group in Sacramento. The California Budget Project report, titled ‘Making Ends Meet,’ estimates the cost of supporting a family of from one person to four people in each of the state’s 58 counties. The study uses federal and state figures to average a range of expenses including housing, utilities, food, transportation, health care, taxes, clothing, laundry services, reading materials and bath products such as toothpaste. ‘We don’t assume any cable TV or smart phone expenses,’ said budget project director Jean Ross, noting that the phone category supposes a $23 a month landline…”
  • Many S.J. families struggling, By Jennifer Torres, June 25, 2010, Stockton Record: “More than half of local families – including those whose earnings place them well into middle-income levels – could be struggling to maintain even a modest standard of living (no vacations, no college savings, no home ownership), according to a new analysis that suggests other measures of poverty fail to consider what it really takes to support a family in the state. The California Budget Project, a nonprofit research organization, on Thursday released an update to its periodic report, ‘Making Ends Meet: How much Does it Cost To Raise a Family in California?’ The report offers county-by-county estimates of the child care, transportation, health care, housing and other costs that confront families – and that, in many cases, strain monthly wages. In San Joaquin County, according to the report, a family of four, with two working parents, would need to bring in nearly $5,800 a month, or close to $70,000 annually, to cover basic bills without public assistance…”