The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Colorado 2008: A Family Needs Budget -- Executive summary
This is an executive summary. To read the full report, click here.
Colorado finds itself at an economic crossroads. With stagnant wages and income, rising costs, and a troubling fiscal landscape, families and communities are facing ever-increasing challenges.
Child care and food costs are rising dramatically. Energy, transportation, and housing prices are increasing. It is becoming harder and harder for families to afford, or access health care in Colorado. And in more and more communities, the threshold for families to be self-sufficient is increasingly out of reach.
More and more families are finding that they are unable to stretch their wages to meet these rising costs for basic yet vital necessities. It begs the question, what is an adequate income? And how does that standard vary among different families and communities in Colorado?
This report addresses this fundamental question. What does it take to make ends meet? How much does it take to be self-sufficient? And what kinds of common-sense, innovative policies can Colorado pursue to help more families get there?
These are the critical questions. Because families are so often right on the brink of making ends meet when they enter or reenter the workforce, carefully targeted policies, including tax policies, can and should play a critical role in helping families break out of the cycle of poverty and head towards economic self-sufficiency.
Some of the key findings from this report include:
- Depending on family size, food prices for rural counties have increased 45 percent since 2004
- On average, across the state, health care costs have increased 35 percent since 2004
- Housing and child care costs continue to be the highest costs, on average, for Colorado families
- The number of Colorado counties with the highest self-sufficiency thresholds has doubled since 2004 (Table 1)
- Spikes in health care costs and food prices are adversely affecting families living in rural Colorado (Table 2)
Counties with Highest Self-Sufficient Wages (one adult and one preschooler) in 2004: La Plata, San Miguel, Pitkin, Summit, Boulder, Douglas
Counties with Highest Self-Sufficient Wages (one adult and one preschooler) in 2008: San Miguel, Pitkin, Summit, Boulder, Douglas, Eagle, Lake (3), Clear Creek, Gilpin, Routt, Hinsdale