Self-Sufficiency Standard

The Self-Sufficiency Standard for South Carolina is a measure of income adequacy that isSelf Sufficiency standard front cover 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 2024 defines the minimum income needed to realistically support a family, without public or private assistance.


Key Report Findings

  • The Standard 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 Charleston County needs an hourly wage of $20.72 ($43,754 annually)
    to meet their basic needs. For families with children, the amount needed to cover basic needs increases
    considerably. If this single adult in Charleston County had a preschooler and a school-age child, the amount
    necessary to be economically secure almost doubles, increasing to $38.17 per hour ($80,619 annually), to
    cover the cost of child care, a larger housing unit, and increased food and health care costs.
  • For families with young children, the combined costs of housing and child care typically make up
    the most substantial portion of the family’s budget.
    For a family with two adults, one infant, and one
    preschooler in Aiken County, child care is 27% of the family’s budget while housing is 15%. 
  • The 2024 Self-Sufficiency Standard for Richland County falls above many similarly sized counties. The
    Self-Sufficiency Standard for one adult, one preschooler, and one school-age child in Columbia City within
    Richland County, SC ($35.05 per hour) is most comparable to Williamsburg, VA ($35.01 per hour).
  • The amount needed to meet the costs of basic needs between 2016 and 2024 increased by a larger
    amount than predicted using the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
    For a family with two adults, one
    preschooler, and one school-age child in Spartanburg County, the cost of living increased by 63% not
    including taxes, rather than the 29% predicted if the 2016 Standard were adjusted to 2024 using the CPI.
  • The federal poverty guidelines for three-person families ($24,860 annually) are set at a level well
    below what is needed to meet a family’s basic needs.
    For example, the federal poverty guidelines are
    just 34% of the Standard for one adult, one preschooler, and one school-age child in Beaufort County
    ($72,202 annually).
  • Even working full time, earning the 2024 federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour is not enough to
    meet the Standard anywhere in South Carolina, for any family composition, including single adults.

    If a parent has one preschooler and one school-age child in Beaufort County, they would be able to cover
    only 31% of the family’s basic needs earning minimum wage (with their take-home pay after accounting for



2024 Self Sufficiency Standard Full Report

The Standard Fact Sheet

Sample Uses of the Standard


Previous Editions

2020 Self Sufficiency Standard Full Report

2016 Self Sufficiency Standard Full Report

2016 Economic Security Pathways report

Note: United Way Association of South Carolina has released a third 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