Even for those who do get jobs, it may be hard to live without public services, say nonprofit groups that assist low-income workers. “Politicians are so worried about fraud and abuse,” said Carol Goertzel, president of PathWays PA, a nonprofit that serves families in the Philadelphia region. “But they are not seeing the picture of families who are working but simply not making enough money to support their families, and need public support.”
The BEST report is touted as the first of its kind to include basic living costs and savings into one measure of income adequacy. It calculates the minimum amount of emergency and retirement savings necessary for economic security, which generally amounts to 3 to 6% of overall expenses for the average American family. In addition to using the BEST Index, the BEST Initiative draws on the framework of the Self-Sufficiency Standard, developed in partnership with Dr. Diana Pearce at the University of Washington, and the WOW-GI Elder Economic Security Standard Index, developed in partnership with the Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Both the Self-Sufficiency Standard and the Elder Economic Security Index have been developed in Pennsylvania with PathWays PA.