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The Self-Sufficiency Standard for South Carolina is a measure of income adequacy that is based on the costs of basic needs for working families:  housing, child care, food, health care, transportation, and miscellaneous items, as well as the cost of taxes and the impact of tax credits. In addition, the report provides for each family type, in each county, the amount of emergency savings required to meet needs during a period of unemployment or other emergency. The report was published in an effort to ensure the best data and analyses are available to enable South Carolina’s families and individuals to make progress toward real economic security. The result is a comprehensive, credible, and user-friendly tool. The measure describes how much income families of various sizes and compositions need to make ends meet without public or private assistance in each county in South Carolina. 

The Self-Sufficiency Standard for South Carolina 2020 defines the minimum income needed to realistically support a family, without public or private assistance.

Key Report Findings

  • The Standard varies by family type; that is, by how many adults and children are in a family and the age of each child. One adult living in Greenville County needs an hourly wage of $11.34 ($23,950 annually) to meet basic needs. For families with children, the amount needed to cover basic needs increases considerably. If the single adult has a preschooler and a school-age child, the amount necessary to be economically secure nearly doubles, increasing to $22.65 per hour ($47,826 annually) in order to cover the cost of child care, a larger housing unit, and increased food and health care costs. 

  • In South Carolina, the amount needed to be economically self-sufficient varies considerably by geographic location. For instance, the amount needed to make ends meet for one adult and one preschooler varies from $13.80 per hour in Orangeburg County to $22.94 per hour in Charleston County, or from 169% of the federal poverty guidelines to 281% of the federal poverty guidelines for a family of two. 

  • For families with young children, the cost of housing and child care combined typically make up the most substantial portion of the family’s budget. For example, for a family with two adults, one infant, and one preschooler in Greenwood County, child care is 27% of the family’s budget while housing is 17%. 

  • The amount needed to meet the costs of basic needs increased between 2016 and 2020 in all South Carolina counties. For a family with two adults, one preschooler, and one school-age child, the Standard increased on average by 16%, across the state. This contrasts with the median wage, which only increased 8% over this period. 

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