Index: Economy / Subcategory: Individual

Self-Sufficient Wages

Date Updated: 10/31/2011

The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Colorado 2011 calculates the income needed by working Colorado families to meet their basic needs without public or private assistance. The Standard uses a nationally tested model that incorporates the most reliable national and local data available to determine county-specific costs of basic necessities for 152 different family types. The necessary wages defined in the Standard are not luxurious, but they are not so low that they fail to adequately provide for a family.

What this chart shows: Annual Income Benchmarks for a Family of Four in Larimer County - 2011

Annual Income Benchmarks for a Family of Four in Larimer County - 2011

* Note: The annual minimum wage was calculated using the Colorado minimum wage of $7.36 per hour based on a 40-hour work week/full-time employment and assumes both adults are working. It does not include any applicable tax credits.

Data Sources:

See data table

What the above data tell us:

The Department of Housing and Urban Development defines 'low income' as 80% of the Median Family Income, or $61,360 (2011) in Larimer County. The Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute's 2011 Self-Sufficiency Standard calculated $58,232 as the minimum household income necessary for self-sufficiency for a family of four (two adults working full-time, one infant and one preschooler). In contrast, a family with one adult working full-time with one infant and one preschooler would have to earn $55,582 annually ($26.32 per hour) to be self-sufficient.

A family with two adults working full-time minimum wage jobs would have earned $30,618 in 2011, representing an income increase of $1,414 from 2008, well below the minimum needed to be self-sufficient. However, during the same three year period, the self-sufficiency standard increased by $2,648 putting low-income Larimer County families further behind.

The problem is even more pronounced for single parents. The self-sufficient standard for one adult, one preschooler, and one school-age child in Larimer County increased 40% over the last decade, from $36,797 in 2001 to $41,435 in 2011. Median wages, on the other hand, have increased only 8%, from $24,034 in 2001 to $25,941 in 2011.

The retail sector employed the highest number of workers in Larimer County in 2010 (See Employment & Average Wages by Industry). The average hourly wage for a retail worker is $11.38, clearly not enough to be self sufficient if you have children living in the home.

Table I: Percent Change in the Self-Sufficiency Standard Over Time, 2001-2011

Larimer County, One Adult, One Preschooler, and One School-age Child

Costs

2001

2011

Percent Change 2001-2011

Statewide Percent Change 2001-2011

Housing

$704

$849

21%

31%

Child Care

$913

$1,410

54%

47%

Food

$379

$526

39%

38%

Transportation

$225

$243

8%

9%

Health Care

$246

$369

50%

55%

Miscellaneous

$247

$340

38%

37%

Taxes

$516

$815

58%

74%

Total Tax Credits

-$163

-$267

63%

54%

SELF-SUFFICIENCY WAGE

MONTHLY

$3,066

$4,286

40%

41%

ANNUAL

$36,797

$51,435

LARIMER COUNTY MEDIAN EARNINGS

$24,034

$25,941

8%

13%

Source: The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Colorado 2011: A Family Needs Budget, Table 3 [pdf]

What this chart shows: Decile Distribution (10 equal groups) of Income: Median & Below, Fort Collins-Loveland MSA - FY2008 through FY2010

Decile Distribution (10 equal groups) of Income:  Median & Below, Fort Collins-Loveland MSA - FY2008 through FY2010

Data Sources: United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) - Estimated Decile Distributions of Family Income for years 2008, 2009, and 2010 [pdf]

See data table

What the above data tell us:

The Department of Housing and Urban Development's annual report, Estimated Decile Distributions of Family Income, describes the income of households by ranking them (lowest to highest income) and dividing them into ten groups (deciles) of equal numbers of households. In Larimer County, households that are not impoverished, yet are challenged to remain self-sufficient, have incomes that most likely fall within the 2nd and 3rd deciles. For 2011 estimates, this includes families earning between $41,200 and $53,200 annually.

Additional Information:

Related Information on COMPASS -

Other Resources -

Standards or Targets:

Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute - The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Colorado 2011: A Family Needs Budget [pdf]

Data Tables:

Annual Income Benchmarks for a Family of Four in Larimer County

Family of Four:
2 Adults, 1 preschooler,
1 school age child

2001

2004

2008

2011

Federal Poverty Level $17,650 $18,850 $21,200 $22,350
Full-time Minimum Wage* $21,424 $21,424 $29,203 $30,618
50% of MFI $29,100 $33,250 $37,500 $38,350
Self-Sufficiency Income $41,954 $47,261 $55,584 $58,232
80% of MFI $46,560 $53,200 $60,000 $61,360
Median Family Income (MFI) $58,200 $66,500 $75,000 $76,700

*Based on both adults working full-time. Does not include any applicable tax credits.

See chart

Fort Collins-Loveland MSA Income Distribution by Deciles

Deciles (10%)

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

1st

$25,300 $25,100 $27,700 $27,700 $27,600

2nd

$37,700 $37,500 $41,200 $41,300 $41,200

3rd

$48,700 $48,400 $53,200 $53.400 $53,200

4th

$58,700 $58,300 $64,100 $64,300 $64,100

Median

$68,600 $68,200 $75,000 $75,200 $74,900

6th

$80,100 $79,600 $87,500 $87,800 $87,400

7th

$93,800 $93,200 $102,500 $102,800 $102,400

8th

$112,200 $111,500 $122,600 $123,000 $122,500

9th

$144,800 $143,900 $158,200 $158,700 $158,000

9.5th

$187,100 $185,900 $204,500 $205,100 $204,200

See chart