Not only are the number of Americans living below the poverty line higher than they have been since the 1950s, that number doesn't accurately reflect the amount of people who can't make ends meet. Just because someone isn't officially classified as living in poverty doesn't mean that a large segment of the population isn't forgotten, having fallen between the guideline cracks:
A family of four in California would need an average of more than $63,000 a year – nearly triple the federal poverty level – to cover its basic needs, according to an analysis of the state's cost of living to be released today.
The 2011 Self-Sufficiency Standard, released by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, a national research organization, shows that in every county in California, the federal poverty level falls short of meeting basic needs: housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and other essential household expenses.
Taking all these costs into consideration, the standard calculates the minimum annual income required for 156 family compositions in each county. The pre-tax income needed to make ends meet for a family of two working, married adults; a preschooler; and a primary school-aged child ranged from $53,775 in Tulare County to $86,629 in Marin County. For a family of four, the 2011 federal poverty level, which is based on the cost of food alone and does not take into account regional cost-of-living differences in the contiguous United States, is $22,350.
"The federal poverty guidelines miss this whole population of individuals and families who are struggling to make ends meet," said Jenny Chung Mejia, an attorney and program manager for the center. "Essentially, what happens is they earn too much to qualify but yet don't have enough to make ends meet; they fall in this sort of policy-benefits gap."
Do you feel like the current guidlelines for what is and what is not poverty are fair in your area? Let us know in the comments.
[Photo by Obama-Biden Transition Project]