Not making ends meet

What percentage of families don’t earn enough income to make ends meet according to the official poverty line and according to basic family budget calculations? Get the facts at a glance in this week’s Snapshot.


Hardships faced by working families

Even during this period of national prosperity, 29% of working families in the United States with as many as three children under age 12 do not earn enough income to afford basic necessities. EPI’s latest book, Hardships in America: The Real Story of Working Families,Adobe Acrobat [PDF] examines the cost of living in every community nationwide and determines separate “basic family budgets” — the amount a family would need to earn to afford food, housing, child care, health insurance, transportation, and utilities — for each community. An online supplement, the Family Budgets Calculator, generates an itemized budget for over 400 metropolitan areas by various family types. Read the press release online. Listen An audio recording of the entire panel discussion can now be heard online in the Audio Archive.


Consumer spending stalls as economy slows

While the U.S. economy continues to avoid a recession, all sectors except the government are slowing. For an analysis of the GDP report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, check out EPI’s GDP Picture.


Insurance benefits of Social Security

In its latest report, President Bush’s Commission to Strengthen Social Security launched another strange attack on Social Security, this time calling it a bad deal for women and African Americans. Like its recent argument about the trust fund, this one lacks both common sense and the facts to back it up. Read You’re in Good Hands With Social Security for an analysis of how the program’s insurance features make it an excellent security arrangement for women, African Americans, children, and low-wage workers.


Bush commission’s Social Security straw man

President Bush’s Commission to Strengthen Social Security, which recently released its interim report, is intentionally attempting to create a false sense of urgency around the program’s well-being. Until now, the debate over Social Security has almost always focused on the year in which the accumulated trust fund would be depleted, currently projected as 2038. But the Bush commission’s report attempts to focus shortfall fears on 2016, the first year in which payroll tax revenues are expected to fail to fully cover all benefits. This situation might be truly worrisome if there hadn’t been a Social Security trust fund established 20 years ago to deal with this very issue. Read more about the interim report and the myths it attempts to perpetuate in the Issue Brief, The Commission’s Straw Man.