Worksystems Releases Self Sufficiency Report for Oregon Counties

January 12th, 2018

Worksystems is pleased to release the 2017 Self-Sufficiency Standard, a measure of how much income a family of a certain composition in a given place in Oregon must earn to meet their basic needs without public or private subsidies. Developed by Dr. Diana Pearce, Director of the Center for Women's Welfare at the University of Washington, the Standard looks at the costs of child care, food, health care, housing, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses and is customized for 700 different household compositions and for every county in Oregon to determine the minimum amount needed to be self-sufficient. The Standard is considered to be a much more accurate measurement of poverty than the Federal Poverty Level. 

34% of households in our region are not meeting the Self-Sufficiency Standard

An analysis of the households less likely to be self-sufficient helps us better understand factors impacting poverty in our region. We use this information to guide our public workforce investments to prepare job seekers for occupations that we know pay a self-sufficient wage.  

Key takeaways from the regional analysis include:

  • 34% of households in Multnomah and Washington counties are not meeting the Standard.
  • The percent of households in Multnomah County not meeting the standard is up 11% from 2008 and Washington County is up 7%. The increase is attributed to significant increases in the cost of child care and housing.
  • Renter-occupied households are 50% more likely to not meet the Standard compared to owner-occupied households. 
  • Minority households occupy a greater share of those not meeting self-sufficiency; in 2014 25% of households with inadequate income were minorities, in 2017 that share has risen to 37%
  • Just one in three households led by single mothers meet the Standard
  • Households in East Multnomah County are 29% more likely to not meet the Standard compared to West Multnomah households.
  • Among those households not meeting the Standard, 76% have at least one person working
  • Educational attainment often leads to self-sufficiency—less than half of households with a high school diploma meet the Standard while over 80% of households with at least a Bachelor’s have adequate incomes