Monday, May 11, 2009

1 in 5 PA Households Can't Make Ends Meet

One fifth of all households in Pennsylvania lack adequate income to meet their basic needs. That's the key finding of PathWAays P-A latest study on the economic needs of working families. PathWays is a provider of residential and community-based services for women and children. The study uses the Self-Sufficiency Standard to calculate the wages family households must earn to pay for basic necessities: child care, nutritious food, housing, health care, transportation and taxes. More than half of the households with incomes below the Standard have incomes above the federal poverty level. Of the households below the Standard, 67% are white, 19% are African-American, and 3% are Asian/Pacific Islander; 26% are married couples with children; and, 26% are single-female headed households.
Dr. Diana Pearce, Director of the University of Washington's Center for Women's Welfare, says at least 85% of the households below the Standard have at least one worker who is employed most of the time, so the problem is not jobs, but rather good paying jobs. Pearce says many people live in "a policy gap" ....they don't earn enough to make ends meet but make too much to qualify for subsidies. "We are not meeting the needs of people particularly now to get to that level of self-sufficiency. They are doing their part...they are working or trying to work. We need to provide education and job training but also work support like child care, housing assistance transportation assistance."
Robert Garraty, executive director of the State Workforce Investment Board, says federal job training grants require that the money be used only for the "economically disadvantaged" but he says the regional Workforce Investment Boards can define that term. He's urging those boards to use the data regarding self-sufficiency to define "economically disadvantaged" so that more people would qualify for subsidized job training.
The 3 worst counties in terms of self-sufficiency: Fayette where 35.4% of residents do not meet the standard; Philadelphia at 32.7%; and Center County at 31.8%

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