As the labor market continues to change, more and more families struggle to stretch their wages to meet the costs of basic necessities. Though these families are often not deemed “poor” by the official poverty measure, they lack enough income to meet the rising costs of food, housing, transportation, health care, and other essentials. The Self-Sufficiency Standard for North Carolina 2017 tracks the true cost of living facing North Carolina families today. It highlights the growing gap between sluggish wages and ever-increasing expenses, clearly illuminating the economic “crunch” experienced by so many families today. By tracking and calculating the true cost of living facing American families, the Standard allows for comparisons of geographic differences as well as documentation of historical trends.