Self-Sufficiency Standard

Self Sufficiency Standard for North Carolina

Throughout our state, incomes well above the Federal Poverty Level are still far below what is necessary for families to meet their basic needs.

The Self-Sufficiency Standard for North Carolina 2020 tracks the true cost of living facing North Carolina families today. It highlights the growing gap between sluggish wages and ever-increasing expenses, clearly illuminating the economic “crunch” experienced by so many families today. By tracking and calculating the true cost of living facing American families, the Standard allows for comparisons of geographic differences as well as documentation of historical trends.

United Way of North Carolina supported the development of the Self-Sufficiency Standard for North Carolina 2020 to ensure the best data and analyses are available to enable North Carolina’s families and individuals to make progress toward real economic security. Local United Ways in North Carolina are addressing community problems, many through collaborative efforts with government, business, and other nonprofit organizations. Their hands on approach is leading to neighborhood engagement where self-defined strategies for improvement spurs a family’s upward mobility. The Self-Sufficiency Standard will help local United Ways and their partners build a case for collaborative strategies that will meet community challenges and create lasting change. 

Key Findings

  • In North Carolina, the amount needed to be economically self-sufficient varies considerably by geographic location and family type. 
  • For families with young children, the cost of housing and child care combined typically account for approximately half of the family's budget. 
  • Over the past two decades, cost increases have far outstripped wage increases. 
  • The federal poverty measure for three-person families ($21,720 annually) is set at a level well below what is minimally adequate to meet a family's basic needs. 
  • Although a quarter of North carolina workers hold one of the top ten most common occupations in North Carolina, only one of these occupations (registered nurses) have median wages above the Standard for a family of three in Forsyth county. 
  • Maintaining an emergency savings fund is a crucial step towards economic security. 


Beaufort County Data Sheet

Our Money Needs Calculator!
Do you know how much it takes to be self-sufficient in your county? - Click here to determine the budget for your family.

Click the images below to download the reports. 

The Self-Sufficiency Standard Report for NC 2020

The Self-Sufficiency Standard Report for NC 2017 


Economic Security Pathways Report 2017



Frequently Asked Questions