Self-Sufficiency Standard Report

Two in five working-age New York City households—over 905,000—lack enough income to cover just the necessities, such as food, housing, health care, and child care. This translates to over 2.5 million men, women, and children struggling to make ends meet in New York City. Yet only a third of that number are poor according to the federal official poverty measure. Consequently, a large and diverse group of individuals and families experiencing economic distress are routinely overlooked and undercounted.

Many of these hidden poor find they earn too much income to qualify for most supports, yet are still struggling to meet their basic needs. To make things even worse, their efforts are exacerbated by the reality that housing, health care, and other living costs are rising faster than wages in New York City.

To document these trends, United Way of New York City, in collaboration with the Women's Center for Education and Career Advancement, City Harvest, and The New York Community Trust, unveiled the 2018 New York City Self-Sufficiency Standard. The Standard measures how much income is needed to meet families’ basic needs at a minimally adequate level, including the essential expenses faced by workers, but without any public or private assistance.

We invite you now to explore what we've learned in the interactive Key Findings, Map, and Calculator below. Then, take it one step further—read the full briefs for the most indepth picture of the state of our City.





  1. Key Findings
  2. Defining Self-Sufficiency in New York City
  3. A City Evolving: How Making Ends Meet has Changed in New York City
  4. Race, Ethnicity, and Citizenship: The Impact on Making Ends Meet in New York City
  5. Gender and Family Structure: The Impact on Making Ends Meet in New York City
  6. Employment, Occupations, and Wages: The Impact on Making Ends Meet in New York City
  7. Work Supports: The Impact on Making Ends Meet in New York City
  8. Overlooked & Undercounted 2018: Technical Brief