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Dr. Diana Pearce, University of Washington School of Social Work Ways and Means Committee Work Session March 16, 2009 The Self-Sufficiency Standard: What.

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Presentation on theme: "Dr. Diana Pearce, University of Washington School of Social Work Ways and Means Committee Work Session March 16, 2009 The Self-Sufficiency Standard: What."— Presentation transcript:

1 Dr. Diana Pearce, University of Washington School of Social Work Ways and Means Committee Work Session March 16, 2009 The Self-Sufficiency Standard: What it is, What it tells us, and Its Practical Uses for Washington

2 What a Difference a Measure Makes  What is the Self-Sufficiency Standard?  What Does the Standard Tell Us about Poverty in Washington State?  How Is the Standard Being Used?

3 #1 – What is the Self- Sufficiency Standard?  The Standard is an alternative, more realistic measure of “poverty” than the federal poverty measure  So what is wrong with the FPL?

4 What’s Wrong With the FPL?  Based on only one cost - food  No geographical variation  Outdated family assumptions  Does not incorporate changes in costs, or “new” costs

5 Defining the Self-Sufficiency Standard  It measures how much income is needed to meet basic needs—without public or private assistance  It varies by location and family composition  It assumes that all adults work full-time

6 Percentage of Standard Needed to Meet Basic Needs One Adult, One Preschooler, and One Schoolage Child Spokane County, WA 2009 (Preliminary)

7 The Self-Sufficiency Standard Compared to the Federal Poverty Level for Select Family Types Yakima County, WA 2009 (Preliminary)

8 The Self-Sufficiency Wage for Select Counties One Adult, One Preschooler and One Schoolage Child Washington, 2009 (Preliminary) **Assumes public transportation use

9 The Self-Sufficiency Standard is Measureable Across Time and Place  Calculated for 37 states, plus NYC & DC

10 #2- What Difference Does the Standard Make? - It changes the number who lack sufficient income: Households Below the Standard      Households Below the Federal Poverty Level             Source: Pearce, D.M. (2007). Overlooked and Undercounted: Wages, Work and Poverty in Washington State. Available at

11 The Difference the Standard Makes  It Changes our understanding of WHO LACKS ADEQUATE INCOME The most common households lacking sufficient income are  White  Headed by married couples with children  Have at least one high school educated worker in the household 82% of households in Washington State with incomes below the Standard have a worker in them

12 The Difference the Standard Makes  Nevertheless, the burden of insufficient income falls disproportionately on families w/ children

13 Though Western urban Washington is twice as expensive, much higher proportions of rural Eastern households lack adequate income

14 The Difference the Standard Makes  The Standard allows us to analyze what costs are burdens & the Impact of PUBLIC POLICIES The Standard shows the amount of each cost, not just food The Standard shows how benefits & tax credits help family budgets

15 Impact of the Addition of Work Supports on Monthly Costs and Self-Sufficiency Wage One Adult with One Preschooler and One Schoolage Child Kitsap County (Excluding Bainbridge Island), WA 2009 (Preliminary) Self-Sufficiency Standard Working Connections Child Care, Basic Food, WIC*, & Apple Health for Kids Housing$694 Child Care$1,006$50 Food$539$386 Transportation$279 Health Care$355$115 Miscellaneous$287 Taxes$489$249 Earned Income Tax Credit (-)($5)($0) Child Care Tax Credit (-)($110)($15) Child Tax Credit (-)($167)($23) Making Work Pay Credit (-)($33) Self-Sufficiency Wage (Monthly) $3,334$1,990

16 Modeling the Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Two Adults, One Preschooler, and One Schoolage Child Benton County (Excluding Kennewick/Richland), WA 2009 (preliminary) Standard Excluding Stimulus Changes Standard Including Stimulus Changes Sum of Monthly Expenses$3,414 Taxes$450$410 Earned Income Tax Credit (-) ($5)($78) Child Care Tax Credit (-) ($100)($110) Child Tax Credit (-) ($167) Making Work Pay Tax Credit (-) NA($67) Self-Sufficiency Wage Hourly$10.21 per adult$9.67 per adult Monthly$3,593$3,402 Annual $43,112$40,827

17 #3 -How Is the Standard Being Used?  1/3 of Workforce Boards use the Standard as their legislated measure of “self- sufficiency”  Online self-sufficiency calculators – in PA, CA, NYC, & in Washington State  Benchmark for program evaluation – “how are we doing at helping families achieve self-sufficiency?”

18 Practical Applications of the Standard  Target scarce program resources to those most in need  Evaluate economic development initiatives – such as Green jobs – regarding the adequacy of the new jobs’ wages  Guidelines for career counselors, to help guide training & occupational choices

19 Questions?  For more information on the Self- Sufficiency Standard and to know more about who is below the Standard in Washington State please visit:


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