Pat Conover: Sharing the Journey
Poverty Budget Exercise

Lake Atitlan Early Morning
Note: For the sake of this exercise assume that you had to find a job in this tight job market and had to settle for a low paying job without benefits. What is the lowest level of income that you think you could get by on? Consider the following categories and add the results of the categories together. Do this on a per week basis.

Start by naming the kind of low-wage job you would want to get.



Clothes (Your job requires appropriate clothing)


Transportation (Your job is three miles away.)


Miscellaneous (Health costs, appearance costs, gifts to others, newspaper, recreation, child care, etc.)

Summary Cost per Week

Reference numbers for your reflection.

A 40 hour minimum wage job pays a gross of $290 a week before subtractions for Social Security and Medicare (about minus $25). The official poverty level for a single unrelated person under 65 is about $200 a week, for a two person family under 65 about $300 a week. 20 percent of the U.S. civilian, non-institutionalized population lives in households with an income of $400 or less per week.

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