The Urban Institute has updated its summary of statistics on the work status, earnings, health care access, housing, and other characteristics of low income families, primarily defined as those earning less than twice the federal poverty level (FPL). The report notes that the FPL for a family with two adults and two children in 2006 was $40,888.
On housing, the factsheet indicates that average rents nationwide have been growing while the median renter’s monthly income dropped 7.3% between 2000 and 2008. As a result, average gross rents (monthly rent plus the estimated average cost of utilities) as a share of renter income increased from 26.5% to 30.3% over the period. The factsheet uses NLIHC data to indicate that finding decent affordable housing is a problem for these low income families.
The fact sheets also show that in 2006, one out of every three families with children had incomes below twice the FPL. Nearly half (48.6%) of these low income families had at least one parent who worked full-time year-round, and 89% of these families’ income came strictly from their earnings. Single-parent families were almost three times as likely to have low incomes compared to married-couple families with children. Related to this, 70% of single parents work, but only 40% work full time because of child care and other family responsibilities.
From 2000 to 2005, the share of non-elderly adults in low income households who lacked health insurance increased from 39% to 43%. For families below 100% of poverty, health insurance coverage dropped from 37% to 30% during this period. Similarly, for families with incomes between 100% and 200% of the FPL, private coverage dropped from 59% to 52%. While 15% of children remained uninsured, this is actually a decline from the beginning of the decade, due to an increase in public insurance programs focusing on children.
Although heads of low income working families are likely to be less educated than those of middle-income families, the report shows that a majority have at least a high school diploma. Thirty-five percent of the heads of low income working families have education beyond high school, while 73% have at least a high school diploma, according to the report.
The Urban Institute report, along with supporting graphs and charts, can be found at: http://www.urban.org/publications/411900.html.