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Making it on your own in Wyoming


• How much money do you need to survive?


By Jordan Smith
Casper Star-Tribune
Via- Wyoming News Exchange

CASPER — How much does a single parent with one preschooler and one school-age child need to make in Wyoming to live comfortably, provide for basic needs and survive without public or private assistance? The answers are nuanced and vary by county. 

But the Wyoming 2024 Self-Sufficiency Standard, released by the Wyoming Women’s Foundation in partnership with the Wyoming Community Foundation and the Wyoming Council for Women, tries to provide those answers. 

The self-sufficiency standard was created at the University of Washington and is an updated, more thorough version of the official poverty measure, which the Wyoming Women’s Foundation says is outdated, since it only calculates the cost of food times three. 

The self-sufficiency standard also includes items like housing, childcare and transportation. It also notes inflation. 

“The cost of living for a family in Sheridan County has surged by 118% between 2005 and 2024.

 This is much higher than the 68% predicted by the Consumer Price Index,” a press release from the women’s foundation says. 

In Natrona County, a single adult needs to make $30,653 to make ends meet without assistance. One adult with one preschooler needs to make at least $51,507. 

One adult with one preschooler and one school-age child needs to make $62,182. 

Add another adult to that equation and the number jumps to $73,513. 

Goshen County has the lowest self-sufficiency standard for one adult with one preschooler. You would need to make $21.08 per hour to keep afloat. 

Teton County has the highest, at $36.03 per hour. 

There are more than 700 family situations that the official spreadsheet for the self-sufficiency standard can consider with its online calculator tool. 

Rebecca Hazelton, the director for the Wyoming Women’s Foundation, noted in the press release that the $7.25 federal minimum wage does not cover the basic costs of living for even one single adult in Wyoming. 

For women, earning an income that provides for those costs can be “an even greater challenge,” the press release states. 

“Unfortunately, in 19 years, Wyoming women have barely surpassed the median earnings made by men in 2005,” she said in the release. 

In Laramie County, one adult can live on $30,955. In Albany, that same person could live on $29,886. 

But those numbers don’t account for extras, like ordering in a pizza or buying furniture. 

That’s where the work supports come in: Hazelton contends in the press release that even a little bit of assistance can give people “a chance to get their heads above water long enough to reach economic stability.” 

“A single parent with one preschooler and one school-age child living in Albany County and working as a retail salesperson with an hourly median wage of $14.25, earns only 47% of the income needed to meet the family’s basic needs if they are not receiving any work support. 

“With housing assistance from Section 8, a Wyoming state child care subsidy, food assistance from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women and Infants (WIC), and health care assistance in the form of Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), this parent could cover up to 93% of the family’s basic needs,” the report says. 

The complete report and key findings are available on the Wyoming Women’s Foundation website.


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