United Way of North Carolina has released the Self-Sufficiency Standard 2017, which defines the amount of income necessary to meet the basic needs of North Carolina families, differentiated by family type and where they live. The Standard calculates the costs of six basic needs plus taxes and tax credits. It assumes the full cost of each need, without help from public subsidies (public housing, Medicaid, or child care assistance) or private/informal assistance (unpaid babysitting by a relative or friend, food from food banks, or shared housing). More than 700 family compositions for each of NC’s 100 counties are calculated.
While Lee County has a lower cost of living than some other areas of the state, an adult with one preschool child, living in Lee County, still needs to earn $16.42 per hour to make ends meet without public or private assistance. While this number may seem high, it's important to remember that achieving self-sufficiency is a process that involves not just finding a job with certain wages and benefits, but also achieving income security over time. There are several ways—separately or in combination—that workers can achieve self-sufficiency. They can receive temporary work supports until their wages increase. In addition, they can obtain training and/or education that will prepare them for higher-wage jobs. Finally, they can combine low-wage jobs with self-employment initiatives.
One thing the Standard does is to highlight the importance of temporary work supports--assistance with things like housing, child care, food, and medical care. United Way of Lee County and our partners are working every day to provide these temporary supports, with the goal of helping families become self-sufficient. You are invited to join us in this important work--it takes all of us to make our community the best it can be.