Self-Sufficiency Standard

The Self-Sufficiency Standard for South Carolina is a measure of income adequacy that is based on the costs of basic needs for working families:  housing, child care, food, health care, transportation, and miscellaneous items, as well as the cost of taxes and the impact of tax credits. In addition, the report provides for each family type, in each county, the amount of emergency savings required to meet needs during a period of unemployment or other emergency. The report was published in an effort to ensure the best data and analyses are available to enable South Carolina’s families and individuals to make progress toward real economic security. The result is a comprehensive, credible, and user-friendly tool. The measure describes how much income families of various sizes and compositions need to make ends meet without public or private assistance in each county in South Carolina. 

The Self-Sufficiency Standard for South Carolina 2020 defines the minimum income needed to realistically support a family, without public or private assistance.

Key Report Findings

  • In South Carolina, the amount needed to be economically self-sufficient varies considerably by geographic location. For instance, the amount needed to make ends meet for one adult and one preschooler varies from $13.80 per hour in Orangeburg County to $22.94 per hour in Charleston County, or from 169% of the federal poverty guidelines to 281% of the federal poverty guidelines for a family of two.

  • The Standard also varies by family type, that is, by how many adults and children are in a family and the age of each child. For families with children, the amount needed to cover basic needs increases considerably. If the adult has a preschooler and a school-age child, the amount necessary to be economically secure increases in order to cover the cost of child care, a larger housing unit, and increased food and health care costs.

  • For families with young children, the cost of housing and child care combined, typically account for approximately 44% of the family’s budget.

  • Average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Charleston is $1,450, about 42% of median  individual post-tax income. The highest percentage recommended individuals spend on housing is 33% of post-tax income.

Using the Self-Sufficiency Standard

The Self-Sufficiency Standard can be used as a tool to:

  • Evaluate proposed policy changes

  • Assist grant-makers with needs analyses of their communities to assess the impacts of their grants

  • Target resources toward job training for fields that pay self-sufficiency wages

  • Serve as a counseling tool in work training programs

  • Evaluate outcomes for clients in employment program

Full Report

The Standard in Practice

Self-Sufficiency for Selected Family Types in the Tri-County Area


How much is enough? Exploring the Self-Sufficiency Standard for the Tri-County Region

Click here to explore how differences in geographic location and family size effect the income needed to make ends meet in the Tri-County region.