Making Ends Meet: Basic Family Budgets in Ohio
July 11, 2006
Economic need is typically evaluated of in terms of poverty thresholds, which provide a national and absolute measure of severe economic deprivation. A broader measure of economic need, the basic family budget, looks at the relative costs faced by families for a safe and modest yet decent standard of living. In 2005, Economist Sylvia Allegretto of the Economic Policy Institute conducted a national study of family budgets in 439 communities across the nation. She included the seven elements of a basic family budget: housing, food, medical care, transportation, household necessities, child care and taxes. Budgets were calculated for families with one to three young children and either one or two parents. The budgets were based on the cost of living in 439 places across the nation; in Ohio, the study included 15 metropolitan areas and rural parts of the state. She found that in 2004, more than one fifth of working families in Ohio with small children did not make enough money to cover the costs of their basic family budget.