Economic Policy Institute Family Budget Calculator shows what families need to get by in every part of Pennsylvania

In no community in Pennsylvania do workers earn enough on a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour to afford an adequate standard of living
Date of Press Release: 
March 6, 2018

HARRISBURG — Today, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) released an update to its signature Family Budget Calculator, which shows what’s required for families to attain an adequate — but modest — standard of living in communities throughout the country. The updated calculator contains data on the cost of living for ten family types in each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties and 22 metro areas.
An adequate budget for a year for a single person without children ranges from a low of $30,654 in Lawrence County to a high of $44,098 in Chester County. For a two-parent, two-child household, an adequate family budget ranges from a low of 68,601 in Venango County to a high of $104,775 in Chester County.
For ease of reference and convenience, the Keystone Research Center has extracted data for the ten family types for each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties and compared annual family budgets in each county to the annual income at $7.25 per hour (the current minimum wage) and $15 per hour.
The Family Budget Calculator is a stark reminder that many working people all over the commonwealth do not earn enough to make ends meet. At the minimum wage, even a single person without children makes well less than half the income necessary to meet EPI’s budget requirements.
“In every part of the Commonwealth, workers and families struggle to meet their basic needs,” said KRC Labor Economist Mark Price. “These data on the basic costs that families face point both to a need raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2024 and also for policy makers to give local communities the flexibility to establish higher minimum wages than Pennsylvania as a whole in order that the local minimum wage is in line with the higher cost of living that prevails in many communities.”
EPI’s Family Budget Calculator takes into account geographic differences in cost of living and factors in a broader range of expenses — including housing, food, transportation, child care, health care, and other basic necessities. Improving on previous iterations, the calculator contains detailed local-level estimates on such costs as food and child care, where only state or national data were previously available. In order to keep the budgets modest, the calculator notably does not include many expenses associated with a middle-class lifestyle, such as paying off student loans or saving for college or retirement — or even saving for job loss or other emergencies.
“Improving living conditions in Pennsylvania requires a diverse set of smart strategies: raising pay for workers; reducing living costs in key areas especially early child care and education, housing, and health care; investing in skills that create sustainable careers for workers that are also profitable for employers. Time and time again policy makers have expended billions lowering taxes for corporations with no measurable return in either wage or job growth. It’s time for a new strategy that invests in people” said Price.

Links to Additional Resources:

Keystone Research Center Tables and Minimum Wage Maps:

Family Budget Calculator:

Family Budget Map:

Family Budget Factsheets:




The Keystone Research Center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization that promotes a more prosperous and equitable Pennsylvania economy.