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Online Budget Calculator Confirms WV Working Families Struggling

An online family budget calculator shows West Virginia working families struggling. Credit: EPI.
An online family budget calculator shows West Virginia working families struggling. Credit: EPI.
September 4, 2015

CHARLESTON, W. Va. - A typical working family in West Virginia probably doesn't make enough money to support itself, according to a new online budget-cruncher.

The Economic Policy Institute's Family Budget Calculator takes local data on a variety of costs, including food, housing and medical expenses. Enter a U.S. ZIP Code or location and it crunches the numbers for different-sized households.

Sean O'Leary, policy analyst with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, says what the calculator shows for West Virginia is most families fighting a big gap between what they make and what they need to get by.

"What it really shows is that, for a low-income worker, it's nearly impossible to get a secure, modest living without either an increase in wages or some sort of assistance," he says.

The budget calculator is easy to use and available to everyone. It can be found at

West Virginia's median household income is about $38,000 a year. According to the budget calculator, a parent with one child in Charleston needs about $45,000 a year to get by. O'Leary says the gap is even worse for the huge number of families in the state trying to make it on the minimum wage even after the recent increases by the Legislature.

"Two parents earning the minimum wage would make only $33,000 a year," he says. "And that's half of what that family would need."

O'Leary says West Virginia should enact a state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), designed to give a boost to low-wage families through the tax system. Critics of EITC programs argue it would be better to give tax breaks to businesses and employers.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV