Financial Self-Sufficiency
Living Wage Rate, 2020

Living Wage Rate, 2020

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 2020, a family of four with two earners would each need to earn $19.03 an hour, for a total of $79,200 a year, to make a living wage. A family of four with one earner would need $28.64 per hour, or $59,600 a year. A single parent with two children would need to make $34.48 an hour, or about $71,700. Living in Berks was slightly costlier 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, Lehigh and Montgomery.

Notes about the data

Figures are in 2019 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

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

Living Wage Rate, 2020
1 earning adult, 2 children2 adults (1 earning), 2 children2 earning adults2 earning adults, 2 children
Berks County$34.48$28.64$10.47$19.03
Berks County Regions
Reading city
Berks County Peers
Chester County$38.64$30.64$11.47$21.11
Lancaster County$33.87$29.27$10.80$18.72
Lebanon County$33.15$28.21$10.31$18.36
Lehigh County$34.29$29.30$10.77$18.93
Montgomery County$38.31$30.64$11.47$20.95
Schuylkill County$31.22$27.27$9.98$17.40

Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Notes: Figures in 2019 dollars.

Annual Income, 2020
1 earning adult, 2 children2 adults (1 earning), 2 children2 earning adults2 earning adults, 2 children
Berks County$71,718$59,571$43,555$79,165
Berks County Regions
Reading city
Berks County Peers
Chester County$80,371$63,731$47,715$87,818
Lancaster County$70,450$60,882$44,928$77,875
Lebanon County$68,952$58,677$42,890$76,378
Lehigh County$71,323$60,944$44,803$78,749
Montgomery County$79,685$63,731$47,715$87,152
Schuylkill County$64,938$56,722$41,517$72,384

Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Notes: Figures in 2019 dollars and assume working 40 hours each week.

Adults Who are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Students in K-6 Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Students in 7-12 Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Physically Inactive Adults Not Applicable
Students Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch Increasing
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 Decreasing
Live Births to Teen Mothers Decreasing
Population by Age Not Applicable
Children with Elevated Blood Lead Levels Maintaining
Change in Population by Age and Gender Not Applicable
Change in Total Population by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Households by type Not Applicable
Foreign-Born Population Increasing
Seniors Living Alone Maintaining
Language Diversity Increasing
Unemployment Rate Increasing
Change in Labor Force Decreasing
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 County/Region for Work Not Applicable
Public Assistance Maintaining
Spending for Local Governments Maintaining
Spending for Counties Maintaining
Spending for School Districts Maintaining
Prekindergarten Participation Increasing
English Language Learners Increasing
Students Receiving Special Education Services Increasing
Per Student Spending Maintaining
High School Cohort Graduation Rate Increasing
Education Levels of Adults Not Applicable
Education Levels of Adults, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Brain Drain/Gain Maintaining
Plans of High School Graduates Not Applicable
Enrollment in Local Colleges Decreasing
Median Household Income Maintaining
Median Household Income by Household Type Not Applicable
Living Wage Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty Increasing
Working Poor Maintaining
People Receiving Federal Food Assistance Increasing
People Receiving Supplemental Security Income Increasing
Health Status Not Applicable
People Enrolled in Medicaid Managed Care Increasing
People Without Health Insurance Decreasing
Cancer Incidence Decreasing
Prevalence of Mental Illness Maintaining
Vacant Housing Units Increasing
Homeownership Rates Decreasing
Cost of Homeownership Maintaining
Cost of Homeownership, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Cost of Rent Increasing
Cost of Rent, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Single-Family Home Sales Increasing
Median Single-Family Home Sale Price Maintaining
Tourism Spending Maintaining
Voter Registration Rate Decreasing
Voter Participation Rate Decreasing
Average Charitable Giving Maintaining
Contributions as a Percentage of Income Maintaining
Households With Internet Access Not Applicable
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation Establishments Maintaining
Toxic Chemical Releases Decreasing
Violent Crimes Maintaining
Property Crimes Decreasing
Incarceration Rates Maintaining
Drug Abuse Offenses Increasing
Drug Abuse Arrests Increasing
Protection from Domestic Abuse Maintaining
Average Travel Time to Work Increasing
Crashes Involving Alcohol Decreasing
Households Without Vehicles Decreasing