This translates to nearly 2.4 million men, women, and children who are struggling to make ends meet. Yet less than a third of that number are designated as “poor,” according to the federal official poverty measure. Consequently, a large number of people in New York City experiencing economic distress are routinely overlooked and undercounted—and this remains true during the ongoing economic fallout from the pandemic. Many working families are struggling to meet their most basic needs, but because they earn “too much” income, they do not qualify for most work supports. To make things even worse, their efforts are aggravated by the reality that the cost of living continues to rise faster than wages in New York City.
While the full impact of the pandemic on working families’ financial well-being is still under research, Overlooked and Undercounted 2021 offers a baseline against which to measure the economic impact of Covid-19 as well as the effectiveness of mitigating policies and benefits. It is already clear, however, that there is an urgent need for bold policy reforms that make food, housing, health care, and child care more affordable, increase worker income and pay parity, and ensure an adequate safety net that protects all people. It is critical to provide an equitable recovery across every neighborhood in New York City.
The Women’s Center for Education and Career Advancement is proud to partner with United Way of New York City, The Fund for the City of New York, The New York Women’s Foundation, City Harvest, Food Bank For New York City, and Hunger Free New York City (a division of Hunger Free America) on the Self-Sufficiency Standard, which measures how much income is needed to meet families’ basic necessities, without any public or private assistance. We use the Self-Sufficiency Standard to better understand the realities so many of our neighbors are facing.