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The average Michigan family needs $52,330 a year to 'make ends meet'

The MLPP's estimate of monthly expenses.

That's for a two-parent family with two kids and where the two parents are working.

Peter Ruark and Cameron Merrill compiled the numbers for the Michigan League for Public Policy.

Their report states that "making ends meet" means just covering the bare necessities.

If you and your partner have two kids, and you make $52,330 a year, the authors say you have just enough to cover your expenses for things like housing, food, healthcare, clothing, child care, transportation, and taxes.

It's equal to each person making $12.85 an hour at a full-time job. 

That's just one living situation the MLPP report looks at. It also breaks down the amount you would need to earn each year to "make ends meet" if you were:

  • single - $21,570
  • a single parent with two kids - $44,164
  • a two-parent family with two kids and you are both working - $52,330
  • a two-parent family with two kids and only one parent is working - $26,720

(They assume child care is not needed in a two-parent family with only one person working.) 
They also broke down the difference in need based on where you live in Michigan. Scroll over the interactive map below to see their wage estimates for each county.

And you can try this calculator to see what they estimate your "basic need" expenses are:

Federal poverty thresholds are set by the U.S. Census Bureau. If a family or a person falls below that threshold, they might be eligible for benefits.

The Michigan League for Public Policy feels the federal measurement leaves some people behind. From their report:

One problem is that it is based on the premise that families spend one-third of their household incomes on food, which is no longer true. Another is that the threshold is established only at the national level even though the cost of living varies among states and regions. As a result, many families cannot meet their basic needs with their wages alone, yet they are not counted as poor.

The current federal poverty level for a 4-person household is set at $23,550. The MLPP says this report is a more realistic benchmark for how much people need to earn "without public or private assistance."

The MLPP calculations are quite a bit lower than those of the Economic Policy Institute (I posted on their estimates last year).

According to their numbers, a Michigan family would need to earn between $62,000 and $69,000 to "get by," which they define as a "secure yet modest living standard." Perhaps the key to their numbers is looking for that "modest" standard of living, whereas the MLPP is looking at numbers for just "getting by."

So how are people in Michigan faring?

The median family income for a family of four in Michigan in 2012 was $74,863 (half of the four-person families in Michigan make more than this, and half make less), and the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that around 16% of people in Michigan are below the poverty level.

Mark Brush was the station's Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.
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