The federal government has a figure for how much it takes to not live in poverty—for a family of four, it’s $23,550. That’s the federal poverty level.
It’s useful information for determining who is eligible for certain benefits.
But anyone who has read finance news in the past five years know that even people who aren’t at risk of being in poverty (as defined by the government) are struggling. After all, some family out there are earning $23,551—and making twice that is still less than $50,000.
The Economic Policy Institute recently updated its Family Budget Calculator.
It ponders “What Families Need to Get By.”
The Family Budget Calculator considers “the income families need in order to attain a secure yet modest living standard where they live by estimating community-specific costs of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, other necessities, and taxes.”
And it breaks it down by community.
It turns out that you can “get by” in Louisville with less than any city of similar size.
In Louisville (and surrounding areas), a family of two adults and two children needs an annual income of $61,171. It’s $42,212 for a family of one parent and one child.
(You can check out the calculator here.)
In Cincinnati, it’s $64,238 and $45,080, respectively. In Indianapolis, it’s $66,971 and $46,694.
Not surprisingly, it’s much cheaper for families in less populous communities. The lowest around Louisville is Nelson County (Bardstown)—$60,243 (for four) and $40,357 (for two).
We’ve mapped it out below:
The cost to “get by” in a city has broader implications than its effect on families, notes Uric Dufrene, the executive vice chancellor for academic affairs for IU Southeast and member of the business faculty.
He told WFPL this:
These type of statistics do determine where people choose to locate. Cost of living is one factor, but just as important, you have the average wages in the region and the types of jobs available. That is the key. Growing an economy with high paying jobs that provide opportunities for citizens of different educational levels.
(Image via Shutterstock)