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
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.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.