Report: America’s Families Are Out of Balance

Media Advisory
Alliance for a Just Society
September 29, 2014
Contact: Kathy Mulady
(206) 992-8787

America’s Families Are Out of Balance

“The basic bargain of America is that no matter who you are, where you come from or what you look like, if you work hard & play by the rules, you can make it.”  – U.S. Department of LaborSecretary Tom Perez on the agency’s Labor Day 2014.

Millions of families in America work hard, play by the rules and are not making it.  The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour and hasn’t been increased in five years.

A sobering report, Families Out of Balance, released this week by the Alliance for a Just Society, shows that the living wage for a single worker in Idaho or Montana is $14.40 an hour. In New York City, it’s $22.50 an hour.

For families it’s even more:

TeeJay Henry ­– A young man in Idaho is trying to support his wife and baby daughter on $12 an hour he earns working fulltime as a heavy truck tire technician. He’s had two raises in two years. They share a house with roommates.  A family living wage in Idaho: about $25 an hour.

Carlota Ortega – She and her husband have two children and live in New York City. She earns $8.50 an hour at a bakery; he earns $10 an hour in construction. They don’t have enough to eat. Living wage in New York City for this family with two working parents: $25.14 per hour for each parent.

Nazmie Batista – A young couple in Connecticut with two children count their pennies. Her husband works full time, but to save childcare costs, she works part-time. They cut back on groceries. She doesn’t know how she will cover her student loan payment. Living wage in Connecticut for a family with two children: $24.92 an hour for each parent.

Calculations in the Families Out of Balance report are no-frills, with a small cushion of savings to cover the minor emergencies that can sink low-income families. Our budgets don’t include payments on student loan debt or medical debt that burdens many low–income families.

What our report does show is that 9 out of 10 low-income families prioritize paying their bills, even if it means skipping meals or turning off the heat in the winter.

Now it’s time for Congress and our state legislators to prioritize families. It’s time for businesses to pay real living wages, so working families can thrive – not just barely survive. Here are some recommendations to get started.

Please let me know if you would like to interview families included in the report, or the authors of the report, Ben Henry and Allyson Fredericksen.

You can find the full report at