Getting By in America


The latest from Gallup:

The federal poverty threshold for a family of four is just under $24,000; however, Americans believe such a family unit living in their community needs more than double that — $58,000, on average — just to “get by.

Hmmm. By coincidence, that’s almost exactly the median income of an American family. It makes you suspect that most people think their own income, by definition, is just barely enough to get by. Turns out that’s almost the case:

Adults in households earning less than $30,000 think it takes an average of $43,600 to get by. However, the estimate rises to $55,100 among those earning between $30,000 and $74,999, and to $69,400 among those making $75,000 or more.

Poor people think they need a bit more than their own income; middle class folks think their own income is just barely sufficient; and upper middle folks are willing to concede that they could get by on slightly less than they make. Still, to a pretty close approximation, whatever income we make turns out to be the income we consider barely sufficient.

THANK YOU.

We recently wrapped up the crowdfunding campaign for our ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project, and it was a smashing success. About 10,364 readers pitched in with donations averaging $45, and together they contributed about $467,374 toward our $500,000 goal.

That's amazing. We still have donations from letters we sent in the mail coming back to us, so we're on pace to hit—if not exceed—that goal. Thank you so much. We'll keep you posted here as the project ramps up, and you can join the hundreds of readers who have alerted us to corruption to dig into.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.