Home Part of States Newsroom
Brief
Report: nearly half of Tennessee households don’t earn enough to meet basic expenses

Share

Report: nearly half of Tennessee households don’t earn enough to meet basic expenses

Jun 07, 2024 | 5:59 am ET
By Anita Wadhwani
Share
Report: nearly half of Tennessee households don’t earn enough to meet basic expenses
Description
(Photo: Getty Images)

Nearly half of all Tennessee working families cannot afford the basic cost of living in their counties, according to new analyses of Census and federal economic data by the United Way of Tennessee.

The report examined the challenges facing households that earned more than the federal poverty level but, nevertheless, struggle to make ends meet.

While the number of households living in poverty decreased by nearly 5,000 across the state between 2021 and 2022, more than 34,214 households were added to the category of Tennesseans unable to pay for basic needs despite earnings that put them above the poverty level. In total, the report found that 1.2 million Tennessee households fall into this category.

Census data shows Tennessee poverty rates fell but stagnated compared to the national average

The report concluded that the “survival budget” necessary for a family of four increased to $75,600 between 2021 and 2022. The budget includes the cost of housing, food, childcare, transportation and healthcare — all of which grew more expensive. In 33 Tennessee counties, more than half of all households failed to earn enough to meet their survival budgets.

While wages have increased in that time period, the 20 most common occupations in Tennessee still pay less than $20 per hour, the report found. These include jobs like sales, truck driving, administrative assistants and elementary school teachers.

Although poverty levels for Tennessee kids have shrunk, the report found that 38% of working Tennessee families with children at home did not earn enough to keep up with basic expenses.

2024-ALICE-Update-TN-FINAL