Indian River County – Working Families

Historically, agriculture and tourism are Indian River County’s largest industries. These industries are complimented by an increasing number of firms in the healthcare and information technology industries along with a steady stream of light manufacturing and service sector jobs.  Still Indian River County families are struggling.

The New ALICE Report

The new ALICE Report (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) was released by the United Way. It shows our working families are struggling and their situation is not improving:

— Of the 55,427 households in Indian River County, 51 percent struggle to pay for basic needs.

— Statewide, 46 percent of households face the same financial challenges. In Indian River County, the number of low-income workers struggling to cover essentials grew by 13 percent (between 2010 and 2016).

— The percentage of Indian River County households living below the poverty level has been stable: 10 percent in 2014 and 11 percent in 2016. However, the percentage of households above the poverty line but still beneath the ALICE threshold jumped from 31 percent in 2014 to 40 percent in 2016.

— The annual household survival budget for a one-person household is $20,220, which equates to $1,685 monthly. This is the bare minimum that is needed for a household to live and work, based on the latest ALICE report. For a family of two adults and two young children, the annual survival budget soars to $54,432, or $4,536 monthly.

Let’s explore what this means more closely.

The median household income in Indian River County in 2018 was $47,446, a healthy increase of 3.6 percent from 2017.  That’s great news.

The bad news is that many working families still can’t make ends meet. Expenses are rising – and so are stress levels.

It’s called the affordability crisis.

The Affordability Crisis

The following numbers are specific to Indian River County for a family of four, and were generated from a variety of publications and sources (listed below). Let’s start budgeting.

$47,446: The median income of county households


  1. (-$4,063) the average federal tax paid. Will vary based on deductions.
  2. (-$3,630)FICA tax.
  3. (-$2,200)real estate taxes on a home valued at $160,000, the median sales price in Indian River County. Tax includes Homestead Exemption.
  4. (-$974)sales taxes, the household average
  5. (-$215) gas tax

Taxes now have consumed a total of 22 percent of the median income, leaving the family with a disposable income of $36,364. Let’s continue.  

  1. (-$1,945) for auto insurance, a conservative figure. Insurance costs and fuel vary greatly based on a number of factors
  2. (-$2,800)for fuel, based on two cars driven a combined total of 24,000 mile a year
  3. (-$4,500) for electricity, county utility charges for water and sewer, waste and recycling, routine home maintenance, lawn maintenance, or an HOA fee for those living in a managed community. This is a conservative annual estimate.
  4. (-$8,822)Food and household items. The weekly average is a modest $170 a month.
  5. (-$4,824) Cable with premium channels, internet service and cell phones (3)

Now you have $18,297, but you also may have to pay:

  1. (-$10,280)for childcare, the county average.
  2. (-3,624) forprincipal and interest on a $60,000 mortgage or home equity loan, as an example.

You are down to $4,393.And you haven’t dealt with healthcare, one of the most expensive items of all.

13.  (-$8,214)at a minimum for health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket medical and prescription costs, including deductibles and copays. However, costs could easily reach $28,000 or higher, depending upon employer or government subsidies, the quality of the plan and the health of family members.

Suddenly you are in the hole by ($3,821) or more.

Add to that the unexpected costs: two busted slab pipes, a new transmission and four tires, cleanup after a storm, an emergency root canal and crown, a new laptop, or a sudden trip to see an ill family member.

Add the costs you expect: car payments, clothing, the prom dress, the cost of sports participation, the college visits, concert tickets, speeding tickets, tutoring for the SATS, parent student loans….the list goes on and on.

It’s hard to tell your young children that you won’t be going on a family vacation this year, or your older children that you cannot afford to help out with college tuition.

What’s a family to do? It’s overwhelming Credit cards, but you may be paying the bankers hundreds of dollars in monthly interest payments.

An Estimated 39 Million Americans Cannot Afford Vacations

An estimated 39 million Americans won’t be taking a summer vacation this year because they can’t afford one. While just over half of American adults are planning to take some sort of trip during the summer months, a whopping 48% are either definitely not taking one or haven’t decided yet. For millennials between the ages of 30 and 38, the average vacation costs  are $2,366, while those between the ages of 23 and 29 are expected to spend just $1,297 on average.

Here’s How Our Leaders Could Help:

  • Elect a Democratic president who will serve the public interest rather corporations the absurdly wealthy.

  • Install cabinet members who do not cater to the interests of the industries they regulate

  • Lower health care costs for American families by, in the very least, improving the Affordable Care Act. Affordable, universal health care is our goal.

  • Raise the national minimum wage to $15 an hour

  • Repeal the 2018 tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, and dedicate more to the working and middle-class

  • Pass a much-needed infrastructure bill, which will create millions of jobs

  • Invest in green energy, which will create new, high-paying jobs and reduce energy costs. After all, FPL will have 30 MILLION solar panels operating by 2030. Why can’t the national agenda reflect FPL’s agenda?

  • Mandate paid maternal and paternal leaves.

  • Lower the outrageous percentage rates of college loans paid by students who will carry their debts into adulthood. And stop the federal government from raking in billions a year through the student loan process.

  • Stop investing tax revenues into charter schools and focus on better preparing public school students for high-paying job in technology and other growing sectors.

  • Offer two free years of community college in exchange for a year of public service.

  • Repeal Citizens United, the Supreme Court ruling that gave corporations extraordinary powers to exert their will over our politics and policies.

  • Examine the excessive salaries within corporations whose hands are in your pocket every day: telecommunications, cable, oil. Their greed has only exacerbated the wealth gap in this country.

  • Revive the national Consumer Protection Board, which helped save consumers billion in fraudulent and abhorrent business practices before the Trump admiration gutted the body.

    As Democrats in Indian River, we work for working families and seniors. Join us. Be part of the solution!

                                                     — Richard Leonard, Communications Committee


The Millman Medical Index, Indian River County statistics

Florida Income Tax calculator

Living Wage Calculator, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Indian River Statistics

State Health Facts, The Henry J. Kaiser Foundation

DataUSA: Indian River County statistics

USA TODAY, June 6, 1018 –Shocking rise in healthcare costs