Only On Six: The Struggle To Survive

Only On 6: The Struggle To Survive

Wichita Falls, TX - With more than three-fourths of Americans living paycheck-to-paycheck, the conversation about raising the federal minimum wage is on some Texomans minds.

Debbie Thomason, a Wichita Falls resident, raised four kids, had a decent paying job and now finds herself unemployed because of back surgery.

"I can't make ends meet," said Thomason. "I have to live with my mom to be able to make ends meet. Both of us have to live with each other."

Newschannel 6 uncovered a startling fact about the average family in Texoma. Most of us are making thousands less than the average American household, forcing us to live paycheck-to-paycheck.

Thomason said she misses work and wish she could go back. She said while she may still be living paycheck-to-paycheck. It would get her a lot further than means she has now. Due to Thomason's back surgery she now collects a disability check.

"It has went down from $430 a week to $730 a month. So that's a big drop," said Thomason.

A situation she said has her pinching every penny to make ends meet. However, Thomason is not alone.

According to 76 percent of American households are doing the same.

Dr. Jim Owen, Assistant Professor of Economics at Midwestern State University said Wichita Falls is not different from the rest of the country.

"The fact that people are living paycheck to paycheck is more normal than other people might expect it to be," said Dr. Owen.

Over the last year, President Barack Obama and his administration have been pushing to raise the federal minimum wage, an issue that has the country and Texoma divided.

Newschannel 6 asked viewers earlier this year in our online poll question whether you though the minimum wage should be raised and 53 percent said yes.

We uncovered salary information and put pen to paper to help give you a clearer picture of the situation in homes across Texoma to see if families are suffering.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary in Wichita Falls was just over $35,000. The national average sits at around $50,000 a year.

"It's part of the reason we have households where we have two people working," said Dr. Owen.

The United States Census Bureau reports said the median household income in Wichita Falls is $44,390 and the average household consists of two and a half people. That can consist of one parent with two kids or a two parent household with one kid.

The Economic Policy Institute has a website that lets you calculate what it cost to live. It pulls data from several governmental accredited agencies.

Monthly costs for a family with a parent and two children in Wichita Falls:

Housing $690

Food   $546

Child Care     $961

Transportation   $459

Health Care         $1,386

Other Necessities   $316

Taxes               $171

Monthly Total           $4,530

Annual Total         $54,361

Monthly costs for a family with two parents and one child in Wichita Falls:

Housing   $690

Food     $598

Child Care       $586

Transportation   $603

Health Care         $1,387

Other Necessities  $330

Taxes               $164

Monthly Total $4,357

Annual Total $52,288

Due to all of these expenses many people do not have any savings. A recent study shows 24 percent of Americans do not have any money tucked away.

"Oh no, there's no savings," said Thomason.

She told us she does not even have enough to cover six months of expenses. A problem, Dr. Owen said many people run into when inching closer to retirement, unemployed, or injured and disabled like Thomason.

"There may be a few that may be able to survive a month or two without a paycheck, but anytime your source of revenue is threatened it becomes a stressful event," said Dr. Owen.

A reality many Texomans including Thomason and her family have to learn how to get by.

"You deal with it and you survive, we survive," said Thomason.

A recent pew research center poll suggest 90 percent of Democrats versus 53 percent of Republicans favored raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 proposed by President Obama.

In November, four states are expected to have minimum wage increases on their ballot: Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota.

Jimmie Johnson, Newschannel 6