Financial Self-Sufficiency
Living Wage Rate


Living Wage Rate

What does this measure?

The level of income needed for households of different sizes and types in a region to be able to pay for necessities, including housing and food, without outside assistance.

Why is this important?

The level of income needed to afford basic expenses often exceeds the minimum wage, forcing the working poor to work multiple jobs or seek public assistance to make ends meet. Understanding the true level of income required to cover housing, food, clothing, child care, transportation and medical expenses provides a more accurate benchmark for assessing the jobs available in a region or local area. The living wage also adjusts for regional variation in costs.

How is our county performing?

In Berks County in 2016, a family of four with two earners would each need to earn $14.75 an hour, for a total of $61,000 a year, to make a living wage. A family of four with one earner would need $22.62 per hour, or $47,000 a year. A single parent with two children would need to make $27.01 an hour, or about $56,200. Living in Berks was slightly less costly than the state as a whole.

Among neighboring counties, the living wage in Lancaster was similar to Berks for all household types. Living wages were lower than Berks in Lebanon and Schuylkill, and higher in Chester, Montgomery and Lehigh.

Notes about the data

Figures are in 2016 dollars and assume a 40-hour work week. The living wage model is an alternative measure of basic needs. It is a market-based approach that draws upon geographically specific expenditure data related to a family's likely minimum food, child care, health insurance, housing, transportation, and other basic necessities (e.g. clothing, personal care items, etc.) costs. More information on the sources of data for costs is available at http://livingwage.mit.edu/pages/about.

There may be additional research available on this topic. Click on Reports and Resources to learn more.

Living Wage Rate
1 earning adult, 2 children2 adults (1 earning), 2 children2 earning adults 2 earning adults, 2 children
Pennsylvania$27.66$23.22$12.40$12.40
Berks County$27.35$22.91$12.25$12.25
Berks County Regions
Central
Northeast
South
Southeast
West
Reading city
Berks County Peers
Chester County$29.43$25.00$13.29$13.29
Lancaster County$27.38$22.94$12.26$12.26
Lebanon County$26.63$22.19$11.89$11.89
Lehigh County$28.04$23.60$12.59$12.59
Montgomery County$29.43$25.00$13.29$13.29
Schuylkill County$25.68$21.24$11.41$11.41

Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Notes: Figures in 2016 dollars.




Annual Income
1 earning adult, 2 children2 adults (1 earning), 2 children2 earning adults 2 earning adults, 2 children
Pennsylvania$57,533$48,298$51,584$51,584
Berks County$56,888$47,653$50,960$50,960
Berks County Regions
Central
Northeast
South
Southeast
West
Reading city
Berks County Peers
Chester County$61,214$52,000$55,286$55,286
Lancaster County$56,950$47,715$51,002$51,002
Lebanon County$55,390$46,155$49,462$49,462
Lehigh County$58,323$49,088$52,374$52,374
Montgomery County$61,214$52,000$55,286$55,286
Schuylkill County$53,414$44,179$47,466$47,466

Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Notes: Figures in 2016 dollars and assume working 40 hours each week.




INDICATORS TREND | BERKS COUNTY
Early Prenatal Care Increasing
Early Prenatal Care by Mother's Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Children Living in Poverty Increasing
Children Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Single-Parent Families Increasing
Single-Parent Families, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Disengaged Youth Maintaining
Live Births to Teen Mothers Decreasing
Change in Population by Age and Gender Not Applicable
Change in Total Population by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Population by Age and Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Foreign-Born Population Increasing
Language Diversity Increasing
Unemployment Rate Increasing
Change in Labor Force Increasing
Employment to Population Ratio Decreasing
Change in Jobs by Sector Not Applicable
Sector Share of Total Jobs Not Applicable
Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
Change in Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
People Entering/Leaving Region for Work Not Applicable
Public Assistance Increasing
Local Government Spending Increasing
County Government Spending Decreasing
School District Spending Increasing
Quality Early Childhood Centers Increasing
Prekindergarten Participation Increasing
Students Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch Increasing
English Language Learners Increasing
Students Receiving Special Education Services Increasing
Per Student Spending Increasing
Student Performance on Grade 3 English Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 3 Math Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 8 English Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 8 Math Not Applicable
Student Performance on High School Reading Increasing
Student Performance on High School Math Increasing
High School Cohort Graduation Rate Increasing
Plans of High School Graduates Not Applicable
Education Levels of Adults by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Brain Drain/Gain Increasing
Median Household Income Decreasing
Median Household Income by Household Type Not Applicable
Living Wage by Household Type Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty Increasing
Working Poor Maintaining
People Receiving Federal Food Assistance Increasing
Health Status Decreasing
Managed Medicaid Enrollment Increasing
People Without Health Insurance Decreasing
Physically Inactive Adults Maintaining
Adults Who Are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Children Who Are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Youth Who Are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Occupied Housing Units Not Applicable
Homeownership Rates Decreasing
Housing Affordability for Homeowners Decreasing
Housing Affordability for Homeowners by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Housing Affordability for Renters Increasing
Housing Affordability for Renters by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Age of Housing Stock Not Applicable
Single-Family Home Sales Maintaining
Median Single-Family Home Sale Price Increasing
Tourism Spending Decreasing
Voter Registration Rate Increasing
Voter Participation Rate Increasing
Average Charitable Giving Increasing
Charitable Contributions as a Percentage of Income Increasing
Households With Internet Access Increasing
Dams Not Applicable
Violent Crimes Decreasing
Property Crimes Decreasing
Incarceration Rates Decreasing
Drug Abuse Offenses Increasing
Drug Abuse Arrests Increasing
Protection from Domestic Abuse Maintaining
Means of Transportation to Work Not Applicable
Average Travel Time to Work Increasing
Households Without Vehicles Decreasing
Crashes Involving Alcohol Decreasing