New Data: North Carolina Families Struggling to Make Ends Meet Even Before COVID-19 Hit
By RTI International
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — The nonprofit research institute RTI International collaborated with United Way of North Carolina (UWNC) and United Ways across the state to release an updated edition of the Our Money Needs Calculator. This interactive online tool is a companion to the 2020 Self-Sufficiency Standard research for North Carolina that defines the minimum income needed to realistically support a family without public or private assistance. Further, the data reveals the benchmark of income by county and for more than 700 family configurations. An individual can view income needed annually, monthly or even an hourly wage, along with real-world expense categories for households.
“Understanding the needs of working families enables local United Ways and other nonprofits across our state to develop sustainable solutions and strategies to move families toward financial stability,” said Tim Gabel, Executive Vice President of RTI International and UWNC board member. “The Self-Sufficiency Standard research is a real-world example of taking a data-driven approach to measuring need, taking into account both family composition and where they live, along with seven areas of expense. It was a privilege for our staff to support United Way of North Carolina in this effort.”
“The Federal Poverty Level does not accurately reflect the threshold of need for working families. Many families across North Carolina are working two or more jobs and are still unable to make ends meet,” said Laura Marx, President and CEO of United Way of North Carolina. “The Self-Sufficiency Standard outlines clear barebones budgets and sets the minimum income threshold to be financially stable, without public or private assistance.”
According to the Self-Sufficiency Standard data, over the last 24 years, the threshold for a four-person family consisting of one adult, one infant, one preschooler and one school-aged child increased on average across all North Carolina counties by 101%, or an annual average of 4.2% per year. However, there is considerable variation by county — ranging from 69% in Rowan County to 161% in Mecklenburg County.