Making Ends Meet on Low Wages: The 2008 North Carolina Living Income Standard

Source: John Quinterno, Meg Gray and Jack Schofield, NC Budget and Tax Center, 2008

The Living Income Standard (LIS) is a market-based approach for estimating how much a working family with children needs to pay for a bundle of basic goods and services. The study uses actual cost data to assess how much money four common family types must earn to afford the market prices of seven core expenses: housing, food, childcare, health care, transportation, other necessities and taxes.

Detailed budgets exist for every one of the North Carolina’s counties, metropolitan centers, economic development regions and workforce areas.

The 2008 version of the LIS finds that the typical North Carolina family with children must earn $41,184 annually — an amount equal to 201 percent of the federal poverty level — to afford basic expenses. Overall, 37 percent of the studied family types fall below that basic income standard. Those families contain 1.4 million individuals.

While the N.C. Budget & Tax Center has produced versions of the LIS periodically since 2001, the 2008 version is not comparable to previous ones. Yet one fundamental finding has remained consistent: hard work alone often fails to deliver a modest standard of living to a sizable number of North Carolina families.
See also:
The North Carolina Living Income Standard Calculator – Look up the cost of living in your county or a group of counties.

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