Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

Employment Alone Is Not Enough for Economic Self Sufficiency for Low-Income Families

New York — While new federal legislation excludes millions of low-income families from the tax relief provided to the more affluent, two new reports find that low-income families are struggling just to maintain their footing.

While the Annie E. Casey Foundation releases its report, The High Cost of Being Poor, the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) announces findings from an upcoming report, Living at the Edge, which shows exactly why employment alone is not enough to help low-income people move to the point where they are no longer struggling to provide their families with basic necessities.

The federal poverty level for a family of four is roughly $18,000. Research shows that, in most areas of the United States, it takes double that amount to provide economic security for children. According to the findings in Living at the Edge, it’s crucial that we reduce the burden of taxes and work related expenses on low-income working families if we are to address the economic disparity in this country.

Other findings from Living at the Edge include:

  • 85% of low-income families have at least one working parent — more at any time in the last decade.
  • One-third of all children in the United States have parents who can’t work their way to economic self-sufficiency any time soon.

The National Center for Children in Poverty identifies and promotes strategies that prevent child poverty in the U.S. and that improve the lives of low-income children and families. Visit our website at