Middle class American parents say they want to raise kids on one income, but many don't have a choice: Survey


Do families have a choice to live off one income?

American Compass executive director Oren Cass explains how many families can’t support themselves on one parent’s income on ‘Making Money.’

A recent survey found that more than 70% of Americans find it "vitally important" to be able to support a family on one parent’s income to be in the middle class. However, as the prices of goods and services continue to rise, many American parents feel they no longer have that option.  

"People hear that, and some people think, ‘Oh, you're talking about the 1950s…you're talking about women barefoot in the kitchen’ and that's not it at all," Oren Cass, creator of the Cost-of-Thriving Index and executive director of American Compass, explained on "Making Money with Charles Payne" on Monday.

"If a family wants to have two parents working, of course, they should have two parents working," he said. "The question is, what about the family that wants to have a parent home with young children? When you ask parents, most say they want to have somebody home with young children. The question is, do they have that option anymore? … In the past they did, and the reality is today they don't." 

The American Compass executive director explained that while in the 1980s, one income could support a family "pretty well" with flexibility, today many families have two parents working and are still struggling to make ends meet.  


Data demonstrates a 25-year-old worker in the 1980s would need to make $443 in a 40-hour week to afford a year’s worth of middle-class essentials. Workers today would need to labor 62 hours a week on average to afford the same essentials. The disparity has resulted in increased credit card usage. 

"I think anyone who's been trying to raise a family could tell you about the costs that have been going up," Cass said. "Housing has gotten much more expensive. Health care has gotten much more expensive. Saving for college, obviously, has gotten much more expensive. Even, you know, food, transportation, all of this has gone up in price a lot." 

The Cost-of-Thriving index differs from the consumer price index by evaluating specifically how much it costs a family in 2023 to purchase family necessities in 2023, rather than comparing data to previous years. 

"When the government tracks inflation, they're just measuring what's happening to the price of the exact same set of things. So in 1985, here's how much a 1985 car cost, and then they're going to tell you how much buying that same car would have cost you in 2023," Cass detailed. "The problem, of course, is you can't buy a 1985 car in 2023 and nobody would want one. And so, what we try to do is say, all right, but how much would it cost a family in 2023 to buy the things a family needs in 2023? And that's an awful lot more expensive." 


Cass said it is "never too late" for the country to make smart decisions toward prosperity. 

"We have to say it's not just enough that we have bigger government programs to cover the cost of college, to cover the cost of health care," he told FOX Business. "We have to say it's actually our priority that jobs are going to pay enough that your typical worker can support a family. And if that's what we focus on, I think we can do it. It's just not what our policymakers have been focusing on for a very long time."

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