Indicators: Self-Sufficiency

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Annual Median Income and the Self-Sufficiency Standard for Various Household Types in 2014

Source: Center for Women’s Welfare; US Census, American Community Survey, Table 19001

The Self-Sufficiency Standard (SSS), developed by Dr. Diana Pearce at the University of Washington, improves on federal poverty standards because it takes into account differences in the cost of living based on family structure, the ages of children, and the county of residence. The Institute of Portland Metropolitan Studies, at Portland State, recently published a report, Where the Ends Don’t Meet in 2014, that uses the Self-Sufficiency Standard, for several household types, to paint a more complete picture of the state of poverty in Oregon than federal poverty statistics alone can provide.

The chart, below, includes the SSS for three different household types for the metroscape’s seven counties. The gray bars, in the chart, indicate median household incomes in 2014. Clackamas and Washington counties had the highest median household incomes at $65,521 and $65,346 respectively, and Multnomah, the region’s most populated county, had the lowest at $53,465.

While it appears that median household incomes exceeded the costs of living for single adults with a preschooler, the SSS for two adults, an infant and a preschooler exceeds the median household incomes in all of the region’s counties, in some cases, significantly. It is interesting to note that the Standard for one adult, an infant, and a preschooler exceeds the median incomes in all of the Oregon counties except for Yamhill. However, for Clark and Skamania counties in Washington, the Self-Sufficiency Standard is less than median incomes for that household type.