Working Poor Families Project (WPFP) is a national initiative focused on strengthening state workforce development policies as a way of reducing poverty for working families. One way to address poverty among working Americans is with so-called ‘work supports,’ which help stabilize low-wage workers while assisting their climb up the job ladder. Work supports include child care assistance, health care coverage, funding for adult basic education and community college attendance, and unemployment insurance (UI) benefits.
Fiscal Policy Project, our program focusing on tax and budget policy, also covers work supports and wage issues.
A Basic Family Budget Calculator is an important tool in determining if a family lives in poverty, because the system currently in place to do that is completely outdated.
Federal poverty guidelines, which dictate whether a family is eligible to receive assistance such as Medicaid and Food Stamps, are tied to a formula that was created in the 1960s. It was based on what the typical family spent on groceries because that was a family’s biggest expense at the time. Today, necessities like housing, childcare and health care take up a far greater share of most family incomes than groceries. Not only do the guidelines not take these changes into account, they do not take into account regional differences in the cost of living.
Because the federal guidelines are so inaccurate, families are generally considered low-income when they earn up to twice (or 200 percent) the poverty level. This makes up for some shortfalls in the guidelines, but they are still nowhere near as accurate as a Basic Family Budget.
- Click here to find out the minimum amount families need to earn in order to live at a basic, no-frills level in New Mexico’s cities and counties