Saturday, September 1, 2007

If You Make $20,616, You're Not Poor

According to official poverty numbers, a family of four that makes $20,616 is not officially in poverty, while at $20,615 you are. Either way, a new report by an Austin think tank Center for Public Priority Policies says a household actually needs up to twice that to survive, $29,982 in the Brownsville area, to $45,770 in the Fort Worth area ($43,029 in Houston, $53,000 without health insurance).

If we do the math, minimum wage in Texas (the federal minimum as well) is $5.85 per hour. If both parents work full time, that's $11.70 per hour. Working approximately 2000 hours a year will yield $23,400 - most definitely not enough to live on, and many government programs fall off after reaching that $20,615 threshold, so those in the midrange, between $20K and $43K don't qualify for much assistance, but still can't make the cost of living.

"We've got a lot of hardworking people who don't make enough money to make ends meet," said senior researcher Frances Deviney.

What to do? (The Houston Chronicle) With the value of wages declining in real buying power and fewer employers offering benefits, the government should step in, Deviney said. Revising poverty standards and increasing access to the Children's Health Insurance Program and food stamps would be a good start, she said, along with enhanced job training and support for community colleges.

Great idea Frances! If you recall from this morning's post, Cornyn doesn't stand on very stable ground when it comes to children's health insurance. He's voted against the Children's Health Insurance Since Cornyn isn't doing enough, let the rest of Congress know you support CHIP: Sign the SEIU petition

As for job training and community colleges, Rick is well known as a relentless champion of public education. His own higher education started in a junior college and ended at Harvard. Before being elected to the legislature he was a school teacher — and as well as an Adjunct General in the Texas Army National Guard. [fdl]

See poverty specifics about your city:
Dallas and Fort Worth most expensive Texas metros - BizJournals
Austin is 3rd most expensive Texas city - News 8 Austin
San Antonio ranked fifth most expensive Texas metro - BizJournals
Study: Even those above poverty level can’t pay for basic needs - Brownsville Herald

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