N.C. families’ incomes fall short

RALEIGH, N.C. — Nearly four in 10 North Carolina families are not earning enough to meet their basic living expenses, a new report says.

The typical North Carolina family with kids needs an annual income of at least $41,184 to pay for basic needs such as housing, food, child care, health care and transportation, says the N.C. Budget and Tax Center, a program of the N.C. Justice Center in Raleigh.

“Making Ends Meet on Low Wages: The 2008 North Carolina Living Income Standard” analyzes actual cost data to determine the basic income needs of four different types of families.

On average, a two-person family consisting of one adult and one child must earn $31,067 a year to make ends meet, the study says, while a family with two adults and three children needs $53,304.

In all, 3.6 million North Carolinians, representing 85 percent of all families in the state with children, live in families described by the report.

Of those North Carolinians, 1.4 million, or 39 percent, live on less than the statewide budget standard, the study says, and 42 percent of those individuals are children.

“Alarmingly, the vast majority of families that fall below the living income standard do so despite working,” John Quinterno, research associate for the Budget & Tax Center and author of the report, says in a statement. “This suggests that financial hardships result not so much from a lack of hard work as from the kind and quality of available jobs,” he says.

Families living with less could begin to benefit from increased access to work-support programs and stronger employment standards like the minimum wage and a paid sick-leave requirement, the report says.

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