Low income workers struggle to support their families in a new economy where the job market doesn’t support the traditional understanding of job security. Nationally as many as one-third of working Americans do not earn enough income to meet their basic needs. Wages have not kept pace with the rising costs of housing, healthcare, and education. Currently 40 million people are working in low income jobs without health or retirement benefits.
Here in our community, 17% of households in the tri-county were at or below the poverty level in 2010 – in dollars and cents that’s $22,350 for a family of four with two children. Many low-income workers struggle to support families, working multiple part-time jobs and going through frequent job changes. Planning and saving for a home, an education, retirement or even covering emergencies seems far-fetched to those living on the edge every day.
Community conversations hosted by Capital Area United Way early in 2012 led to the identification of family security as a concern in the tri-county. Our United Way action area of Secure Families focuses on enabling families to move toward financial independence. Representatives from finance and business, government, human services, and the community will meet to assess the role each is currently playing and determine strategies to address the obstacles that prevent hard working families from getting ahead financially. Outcome measures will enable Capital Area United Way to report to donors successes over time in the tri-county.
- The tri-county unemployment rate has fluctuated between 2008 and 2012. In 2013, the rate of unemployment in Clinton, Eaton and Ingham County respectively decreased to 6.9%, 7.5%, and 7.5%. All were below state rate of 8.8%.
- With a population nearly half million, there were 143, 390 people with no health insurance.
- Finding affordable housing can be a difficult problem for low-income families – affordable housing frees up resources for other basic need.
- It can take several months to several years to acquire a federal housing assistance voucher.