Researcher(s):Deanna Schexnayder, Ying Tang, Brendan Hill, Sarah Looney Oldmixon
Date Published: February 2007
Publisher(s): Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources, The University of Texas at Austin
Availability: Full Report (PDF)
Abstract: Low-wage workers who are also heading families typically meet their basic expenses through a combination of their earnings, government benefits and reliance on family, friends and local philanthropies. Over the past decade, welfare reform policies, rapidly increasing medical costs and declining real wages for lower-income workers have increased the challenges faced by these families. Devolved program policies combined with the variation in the cost-of-living across localities mean that a family‚Äôs ability to meet its expenses at a given income level can differ dramatically depending on where someone lives.
The Bridging the Gaps project,
a research initiative organized by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), is designed to better understand the ability of workers who are supporting families to cover their basic expenses through a combination of work and the government work supports for which they are eligible. Researchers from the Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources (RMC) of The University of Texas at Austin used data from the Family Resource Simulator (FRS) developed by the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) to assess differences in a hypothetical Texas family's ability to meet its expenses at various income levels in Dallas, Houston, Laredo and San Antonio.
This report provides key background information about Texas' population, economic and policy environment, briefly summarizes the availability and key features of programs that are available to support Texas working families, discusses results from the simulation of resources and expenses for the hypothetical family at different earnings levels across four
Texas cities, and offers conclusions to help guide further work on this topic.