Berea, Ky. – A two-parent, two-child family in Kentucky must earn at least $4,814 a month, or an annual total of $57,763, to make ends meet, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
The organization has released an update to its signature Family Budget Calculator, which shows what’s required for families to attain a secure yet modest standard of living in 618 communities throughout the country, including seven across Kentucky.
A breakdown of the monthly costs for a two-parent, two-child family by location in Kentucky (annual needs in parenthesis)
• Elizabethtown: $4,814 ($57,763)
• Rural areas: $4,834 ($58,005)
• Owensboro: $4,898 ($58,780)
• Bowling Green: $4,935 ($59,218)
• Ashland: $4,996 ($59,949)
• Louisville: $5,064 ($60,764)
• Lexington: $5,074 ($60,883)
Meanwhile, it costs at least $24,906 for a single person without children to meet his or her basic needs, which is well above what a minimum-wage worker earns in a year. For reference, a worker who earns $7.25 an hour earns $15,080 a year before taxes.
EPI’s Family Budget Calculator improves on traditional poverty thresholds by taking into account geographic differences in cost of living and factoring in a broader range of expenses. The federal poverty line, which was created to measure serious economic deprivation, is set at the national level and does not account for community-specific costs.
The Family Budget Calculator includes the cost of housing, food, transportation, child care, health care and other basic necessities such as clothing and household supplies. Costs vary widely by family type as well as geographic area. Notably, among two-parent, two-child families, child care costs exceed rent in the vast majority of family budget areas.
While many policy changes are needed for more Kentuckians to achieve a decent standard of living, Kentucky Center for Economic Policy Communications Director Kenny Colston noted that one concrete step the state could make is to raise the outdated minimum wage.
“In no place in Kentucky, from Paducah to Pikeville, does the current minimum wage provide nearly enough income for people to get by,” Colston said. “We encourage our state leaders to recognize reality and pass a statewide minimum wage increase in the next legislative session, which will make a big difference in families’ ability to afford transportation, childcare or other essentials to a productive life.”