Self-sufficiency Standard

What is the Self-Sufficiency Standard? 

The self-sufficiency standard is a budget-based measure that defines the amount of income necessary to meet basic needs without public or private assistance. 1 The self-sufficiency standard is calculated for a variety of different family types and takes into consideration regional differences as well as annual variation. The self sufficiency standard varies significantly from the Official Poverty Measure by considering all major budget items that working adults are responsible for–not just food. 2 There is general consensus among economists that the poverty threshold is both outdated and does not accurately capture costs for every family or individual. 3 For a deeper dive into the self-sufficiency standard and its metrics, visit this link.

A great resource for understanding more about what self sufficiency means is the MIT Living Wage Calculator. The calculator  demonstrates the gap that exists between the minimum wage and the wages that working people would need to support themselves, their families, and their futures. The model created by MIT is a market-based approach that takes into account costs of services and products varying by geographical location.

Here is some specific information from the MIT Calculator for Illinois, Chicago, and Peoria.

In 2017, a living wage for one adult is:

    • In Illinois $11.72 an hour (minimum wage: $8.25 an hour).
    • In Cook County $12.56 an hour (minimum wage: $8.25 an hour).
    • In Peoria $10.02 an hour (minimum wage: $8.25 an hour).

In 2017, a living wage for one adult and two children is:

      • In Illinois $30.75 an hour.
      • In Cook County $31.73 an hour.
      • In Peoria $28.93 an hour.

Disaggregated Wage Data

As noted above, the key to workers’ self sufficiency is through livable wages. However, wages vary drastically between races and genders, putting certain populations further away from self-sufficiency than others. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median weekly wage between White, African American, Asian, and Latino workers varies significantly. The difference between the median Asian wage and Latino wage per week is almost 450 dollars, and African American and Latino workers earn far less than both White and Asian workers. 

Women’s wages disaggregated by race are consistently lower than the total median wages calculated in the above graph. Compared to total workers, White women make almost $100 less than the total white median wage, and Asian women almost $150 less than the total Asian median wage.