What is a Self-Sufficiency Standard?
A self-sufficiency standard is a measure of what it costs a family to live in a specific geographic area. They are calculated for a variety of different family types living in a wide range of cities, states, or regions. The goal is to illustrate the amount of income individuals or families need to make ends meet without public or private assistance. There is general consensus that the poverty threshold does not accurately capture these costs for every family or individual. A major reason for this is its failure to account for the variance in cost of living.
A great resource for understanding more about what it means to make a living wage is the MIT Living Wage Calculator. The calculator demonstrates the gap that exists between established wages and the wages that working people would need to support themselves, their families, and their futures.
The federal poverty level does not account for living costs beyond minimal food costs. The model created by MIT is a market-based approach that takes into account costs of services and products varying by geographical location.
Here is some specific information from the MIT Calculator for Illinois and Chicago.
In 2017, a living wage for one adult is:
In Illinois $11.72 an hour.
In Chicago $12.33 an hour.
In Peoria $10.02 an hour.