May 6, 1999
Contact: Marianne Kunnen-Jones


Cincinnati -- A new study commissioned by the Loveland, Ohio-based Grail Women Task Force and conducted by University of Cincinnati sociologist David J. Maume Jr. has some discouraging news for Ohioans. Even if you have a job, it doesn't mean you re making enough money to have a self-sufficient standard of living.

The study calculates the Self-Sufficiency Standard (SSS) for Ohioans and finds that certain industries' average wages are not high enough to allow some families to be self-sufficient. According to the study, Ohioans must earn 35-88 percent above the poverty level just to make ends meet.

The SSS is the minimum amount of money needed to rent an apartment and pay for food, child care, transportation, medical care and taxes. It does not include money for education, entertainment, clothes or eating out, even fast food.

The SSS measures the minimum level of income needed to live without reliance on government aid or private charity. It assumes transportation is available from a car that is already paid for, not leased or financed and that the car will not break down.

The Grail study marks the first time the SSS has been calculated for Ohio, Maume said. He is scheduled to present the results of the Grail's "Self-Sufficiency Standard in Ohio" study to the Ohio Women Leaders Caucus: Making Welfare Reform Really Work on May 20-21 at Grailville, 932 O'Bannonville Road, Loveland, Ohio.

According to federal definitions, the poverty level ranges from $8,350 for a single person to $16,276 for a family of four, but the Grail study suggests that much more money is needed in order to live in self-sufficiency in the state of Ohio. The study finds, based on cost factors in Ohio, that a single parent with three pre-teen children in Ohio would need $30,679 to be self- sufficient, well above the $16,333 poverty threshold set for that household size by the federal government.

In Hamilton County, a single adult needs $11,530 to be self-sufficient $3,180 more than the poverty level of $8,350. (For more Hamilton County and Butler County figures, see attached table.

About 86 percent of families on welfare are women and their children, "so this is not particularly good news to hear right before Mother's Day," said Maume. Many of these recipients are being forced to find jobs because of recent welfare reform.

Finding jobs that provide self-sufficient levels of income can be especially troublesome for women with children who need child care, Maume said. The wholesale/retail trade and service sectors are the ones projected to grow the fastest in the next decade and the ones most likely to offer jobs to low-skill workers coming off welfare. Yet these sectors also rank lowest in average annual income.

For example, the average annual wage in the Ohio trade sector is $19,398 (1997 data) -- $2,554 below the self-sufficiency income a single parent with two pre-schoolers would need to get by. In the service sector, the average wage is $6,000 short of the income a single parent with three pre-teen children needs to be self-sufficient and $2,000 short of the income a married couple with two pre-teen children needs.

"All of the families would enjoy the greatest cushion between pay and the self-sufficiency standard if they secured jobs in the manufacturing sector, which has a state-wide average wage of $39,137," Maume said.

To address the problems identified, the study suggests increased child-care subsidies; non-traditional employment opportunities for women; and targeted training for high-wage jobs.

Gisela Hinkle, a task force spokeswoman, emphasized that the study contains important information that "needs to be considered by politicians, the private sector, social service agencies and educators throughout the state of Ohio if the self-sufficiency of welfare women is to be a realistic goal."


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