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Some Hoosiers a Long Way from Being Self-Sufficient

Indiana families need to make a lot more money in order to make ends meet without government help (kamuelaboy/morguefile)
Indiana families need to make a lot more money in order to make ends meet without government help (kamuelaboy/morguefile)
January 15, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS - The amount of money it takes to survive keeps going up in Indiana, but wages aren't. The 2016 Self Sufficiency report is out and its author, Dr. Diana Pearce, director of the Center for Women's Welfare at the University of Washington, says the difference between what someone needs to make and actually brings home in their paycheck keeps growing.

"This is working families," says Pearce. "If they're working at the minimum wage or near that, they'd have to work two, sometimes three jobs depending on where they live, and there's no way you can do that."

Pearce's report found the amount needed to meet the costs of basic needs increased between 2005 and 2016 in all Indiana counties. For a family with one adult, one preschooler, and one school-age child, the standard increased by 60 percent, yet median wages only went up by nine percent.

A report by the Business Research Center at Indiana University puts the Hoosier State 39th for per-capita income. It also has one of the lowest minimum wages, at $7.25 cents an hour. Next door, Illinois' minimum wage is $10 an hour, and it's ranked 18th in per capita income.

Pearce says the kind of money Hoosiers make means it's very hard for a family to survive without government help.

"Minimum wages are not going up, so it's creating more and more problems, and we're starting to see that with increased homelessness," says Pearce. "Employers are offering it, not taking the health care because it's just one more expense. And once you've met your rent, you don't have much room for anything else. So, people who are employed even full-time are going to food banks."

Pearce says how much you need to make to survive varies from county to county, with the highest being Hamilton County and the lowest Cass. But even in the latter, a single parent with one child needs to make at least $13.58 cents an hour, which is much higher than Indiana's minimum wage.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN