The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Facts & figures

For most Americans, financial emergencies such as a treatable illness, leaky roof or car-insurance deductible are difficult—but doable. Not so for the one-out-of-every-eight Americans who live in poverty. For a family of four, that income is $18,810 or less, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Just how far does $18,810 go?

$18,810 total annual income

- 5,674 basic shelter


- 2,383 utilities


- 4,498 paying for and fueling a car


- 5,616 food, even with $1,249 in food stamps or other public aid

-351 deficit spending begins

- 890 average out-of-pocket medical expenses with health insurance.

-1,241 credit-card debt or loans increase

- 3,386 child care, after subsidies

-$4,627 total annual deficit

Expenses above are based on averages for families at this income level, according to the Bureau for Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey. Not included: vehicle insurance, taxes, education, clothing, finance charges, entertainment, school supplies, furniture, life insurance, gifts or everyday emergencies.

Sources: 2003 U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau for Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey (www.naccrra.org).


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February issue


Embracing diversity