I am going to stick with 1980 for my discussion on the federal poverty level because in this post it also works to exemplify the problems.
In 1980 families didn’t have as many costs. Two costs are internet and cable. Some might argue that those are luxury items, but when you are talking about a family raising children then the internet becomes a necessity. Also given the new digital television requirements and the fact that many areas can no longer receive over the air broadcasts, cable becomes a necessity. On the low end these two items can total an additional $60 a month ($20 for bare basic dial-up internet and $40 for bare basic cable. This is prices in the Cincinnati area).
Another cost that exists today that didn’t in 1980 and is very much prudent when talking about families is school fees. Schools have gone to some unique practices that didn’t exist in 1980 to recoup costs and that is by charging parents for school. Having talked to people I know with children in high school I have found out that they are paying an average of $500 a year for student fees, books and materials per child. So if you have two children in high school then you are paying out an additional $1,000 a year.
So let’s go ahead and use my adjusted FPL for a family of four I have been going on today and add these new costs in
First as a reminder the FPL for a family of 4 is $22,050. As I laid out in my previous post the FPL adjusted by the true CPI-U comes out to $24,653 and now let’s add in these new costs that didn’t exist in 1980: