Dollars per Hour Wage that an Individual Must Earn to Support a Family in Austin


Affordability is a known challenge of Austin, resulting in an increase in the hourly wages required to sustain a family living in Austin. The increase was primarily due to higher transportation costs, presumably because Austinites are  commuting into Austin from places without reliable public transportation.

There are a variety of family types that cause the dollars per hour wage to fluctuate. For the City of Austin, the family type identified in the figure to the right is a family with one adult and one infant.

Since the measure is intended to tell the story of how much an individual needs to earn to sustain a family, the family type selected shows the smallest family size and child-age based on U.S. Census data in Austin. 


Data is reported every two years for counties across the United States by the University of Washington's Self-Sufficiency Standard. The Standard tracks costs for each family type in several segments: housing, child care, food, health care, transportation, miscellaneous, and taxes. For Travis County the dollars per hour wage increased in two years from $20.20 to $24.12. The fastest rising factor of the calculation was increasing transportation costs, from $284.72 to $457.94, between the two reporting periods.
The primary expenses for families are listed in the table below, which can be viewed by year of available data. 
Note: To see the underlying data for the chart, please select the "View Source Data" link.

Additional Measure Insights

Measure Details and Definition

1) Definition:  This measure shows the amount of money per hour an individual must earn to sustain a family. Family size for this measure is defined as one adult and one infant.
2) Calculation method: The dollars per hour wage is calculated by the monthly expenses and net tax credits a family type receives divided by approximately 176 hours per month.
3) Data Collection Process:  This data is collected every other year, by Dr. Sandra Pearce, of the University of Washington's School of Social Work, under a project of the Center for Women's Welfare called the Self-Sufficiency Standard.
4) Measure Target Calculation:  At a minimum, the City of Austin desires to go no higher than 2018 dollars per hour wage of $22.20.
5) Frequency Measure is Reported: Every two years

Date page was last updated: October 2020