When a raise means losing ground for low-income families

BY News Desk  January 11, 2014 at 3:30 PM EDT

suburban poverty

As part of NewsHour Weekend’s coverage of the rising rates of poverty in American suburbs, we also refer to the “cliff effect.”

This phenomenon occurs when a family begins to earn above the limits set by the state and becomes ineligible for subsidies for food, housing, child care and other benefits. For low-income families, this means earning more could actually put them in a worse place financially.

In some states like Colorado, the cut is dramatic. The benefits aren’t just stepped down as income rises — they are eliminated. To learn more about this issue, watch “Losing Ground: The Cliff Effect,” produced by public television affiliate Rocky Mountain PBS.

The Rocky Mountain PBS report follows three families as they face a problem with no easy solution: If they accept a raise or promotion, the work support benefits they rely on, such as child care, can be lost.