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How Much You Need to Make to Have an Adequate Standard of Living in Denver

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How much do people in Denver need to earn each year to have an adequate standard of living?

This is one of the key questions addressed by the Economic Policy Institute.

In "EPI’s Family Budgets and Income Sufficiency in Denver," on view in its entirety below, EPI gets specific, offering dollar amounts for individuals in a wide variety of household circumstances: one person; a single parent with between one and four kids; a childless couple; and two parents with one-to-four children.

The numbers, culled in part from U.S. Census Bureau statistics, struck us as quite hefty — and nearly half of us, by EPI's estimate, don't quite hit them.

According to the organization, there are nearly two million people in the Denver-metro area when counting "single persons and individuals in non-elderly families."

Of that total, approximately 848,000, or about 43 percent, "fall below the family budget threshold."

Here's the breakdown by category....

One person: $28,829

One parent, one child: $53,116

One parent, two children: $64,212

One parent, three children: $88,623

One parent, four children: $95,352

Couple: $40,794

Two parents, one child: $61,254

Two parents, two children: $71,104

Two parents, three children: $92,117

Two parents, four children: $98,873

...and here's a graphic showing percentages of those who fall below the family budget threshold by general category.

This heat graphic drills down even further, offering the opportunity to see how much of expenses for people in assorted situations go to housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, other necessities and taxes. Place your cursor over each item for additional details.

Racial and ethnic factors also come into play when determining whether a person is likely or less likely to be above the family budget threshold.

Here's a graphic exploring these elements:

Elise Gould and David Cooper, the authors of the Denver study, sum up their findings like so:

The EPI family budgets provide a valuable tool for understanding what it actually takes to achieve a modest level of economic security in hundreds of communities throughout the country. Moreover, for policymakers seeking to assess whether labor standards are ensuring that regular employment provides the means to a decent quality of life, the family budget’s threshold of a modest but secure standard of living is arguably a more useful target than traditional measures of poverty. Applying the family budget thresholds to Census Bureau data on Denver shows that many—indeed, more than 40 percent—of the region’s residents are struggling to achieve economic security. As policymakers in Denver consider measures to raise incomes for area residents, they should be fully aware of just how far many in the community are from this benchmark.

Look below to see the complete report.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

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