There is a new study that was done by the 2022 County Health Rankings has indicated that a family which includes one adult and two children needs to earn an average of $35.80 an hour just to make ends meet. Unfortunately, wages that have been stagnant for decades and rising costs due to record-setting inflation have caused millions of American families to economic crisis. Most households across the country don’t come close to this needed income.
In America’s 3,100 counties, only two provide wages that meet a standard of living for the average worker, according to Keith Gennuso. He is the lead author of the recent study. A standard of living, or what some refer to as a living wage, has to cover the costs of food, housing, child care, medical care, and transportation. This living wage standard does not include money set aside for retirement savings or the cost of higher education. And there is nothing that will be available for any emergency expenditures. That means that most families are an accident away from financial ruin and have no hope of long-term financial security.
The yearly wage that correlates to $35.80 an hour is $74,400 in annual income. But the average hourly wage in America as of March of this year was only $31.73 or $66,000 a year, according to information from the government. This means that most families can’t keep up with the standard of living and are falling behind in their ability to just purchase their basic needs.
The County Health Rankings is a program of the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. Marjory Givens is the co-director of the program. She told CBS MoneyWatch that the study is a clear indication that economic security is not within the reach of most people in America and that there should be a “call to action.”
The two counties that have an income that at least meets the average need for living wages are Los Alamos County in New Mexico and Williamson County in Tennessee. According to Givens, those two counties have a high income, a low cost of living, and good health histories.
Many areas in the country have a significantly higher cost of living, but what may surprise many is that even the lowest cost of living areas required almost $30.00 an hour in wages. For instance, this is what it takes for standard living in Holmes County Mississippi. In contrast, you need $65.45 an hour in San Francisco.
What is even more significant is that the County Health Rankings used information from 2021, so the recent spike in inflation this year is not reflected in the study.
Experts have indicated in the past that childcare is considered to be affordable if it costs less than 7% of a household’s income. But according to this study, there is not one U.S. county where care for two children is at or below that percentage. Therefore there is a huge financial mountain for families to climb to be able to care for their children outside of their homes.
Gennuso said, “It’s likely that a child care provider with two kids couldn’t even afford their own services — it would make up 50% of their income.”
These numbers also indicate that public schools are being underfunded in most parts of the nation. Just about half of all counties in America operate with a public school funding deficit, especially in the South.
Gennuso said, “We know a well-funded school can put a child on a path to success and a healthy life. Schools need the resources to provide that quality education, and we know that’s not the reality across the U.S.”
No one seems to be focusing on any light at the end of this financial tunnel. These numbers certainly should affect the November elections.