A new report that takes into account child care, transportation costs, assets and savings, taxes, rent, and utilities among other variables finds that a working single-parent paying for childcare without employment benefits requires a wage of $29.84 to maintain economic security.
The report from Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) is based on the concurrently released Basic Economic Security Tables Index (BEST), a budget-based approach to calculating the hourly wage that households of various compositions, all with at least one worker, need in order to maintain economic stability. The calculations are based on assumptions about basic household expenses and required savings. Housing cost assumptions are based on HUD’s Fair Market Rents (FMRs) (see articles elsewhere in Memo).
WOW developed the BEST index, in part, to increase awareness among policymakers and advocates about the housing cost burdens families face. For families without children, rent and utilities are often the most costly household expense. The report finds that low income households often have lower rental cost burdens because of rental subsidies, but their lack of assets still contributes to their economic instability.
In the report, The Basic Economic Security Table for the United States 2010, WOW also analyzed the availability of emergency savings, level of education, availability of unemployment insurance, and future job growth to assess potential economic risks and challenges households may face in meeting future basic needs. Overall, their findings suggest that single-parent households headed by minority women without postsecondary education and with children in daycare have the highest risk of economic insecurity.
For more information on the basic income needs of American households, visit http://www.wowonline.org/documents/BESTIndexforTheUnitedStates2010.pdf.
For background information on budget based measures of self-sufficiency and housing affordability see this report from NLIHC http://www.nlihc.org/doc/AffordabilityResearchNote_2-19-08.pdf