Almost half of all Americans, or 45 percent of the U.S. population, do not earn enough to cover their basic expenses. They live in a state of economic insecurity.
A new report by Wider Opportunities for Women [pdf] documents the extent to which large numbers of Americans—including those who played by the rules and managed to find jobs, form household, and raise children—are living on the edge. They simply do not earn enough to pay ever-increasing housing, food, health care, and other expenses.
A lot depends, of course, on the structure of the household (whether they are one or two adults, and whether or not the households include children), and the gender, racial, and ethnic identity of household members. The report calculates a series of Best Economic Security Tables for all such households.
But I want to focus on one dimension of the study: the difference between 1-worker and 2-worker households.
As you can see from these figures, Americans who live in households with two adults and two children are forced, in order to have an income that achieves economic security, to have the freedom to send both adults into the labor market. And, even then, minimum-wage jobs ($30,624) will only put them slightly above the federal poverty level ($22,050) and the economic security index ($67,933) is still above the median family income ($61,933) in the United States.
The situation is even worse for households led by single mothers, Blacks and Hispanics, and those with only a high school education.
The fact is, the United States is a country that has created a situation of economic insecurity for 45 percent of its citizens.