You are here

Self-Sufficiency Standard

The Self-Sufficiency Standard for South Carolina 2016

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 2016 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 $12.49 per hour ($26,373 annually) in Laurens County to $18.43 per hour ($38,920 annually) in Beaufort County, or from 166% of the Federal Poverty Level to 244% of the Federal Poverty Level.

  • 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. One adult living in Greenville County needs an hourly wage of $9.48 ($20,027 annually) to meet basic needs. 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 is nearly doubled, increasing to $18.32 per hour ($38,684 annually) 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 50% of the family’s budget. For example, for a family with two adults, one infant, and one preschooler in Greenwood County, child care is 25% of the family’s budget, while housing is 18%. Food costs take up 18%, health care 15%, and transportation 14% of the family’s budget.

  • The Self-Sufficiency Standard amount for Columbia is higher than comparably-sized southern cities. For example, the amount needed for one adult and one preschooler living in Columbia ($16.87 per hour) is slightly more expensive than Savannah, GA ($16.59 per hour) and Gainesville, FL ($15.82 per hour). 


Full Report

The Standard Fact Sheet

How is the Self-Sufficiency Standard Calculated?

Sample Uses of the Standard


Note: United Way Association of South Carolina has released a second edition of the “The Self-Sufficiency Standard for South Carolina.” Since the initial release, additional sponsors have pledged their support and are acknowledged in the second edition along with examples of how The Standard has been used by other southern states. Please direct any questions regarding the report to