If you find yourself struggling to pay bills despite a steady income, you may simply be getting priced out by the high cost of living in your state, county or metropolitan area.
An updated tool from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is helping Americans determine whether a person’s income is enough to live comfortably in their area.
MIT’s Living Wage Calculator provides a breakdown of typical expenses for individuals and families of up to five people, then determines the income needed to provide for basic expenses for each family size.
Here’s where to find the data for Southern California counties and metropolitan areas.
- Los Angeles County
- Orange County
- Riverside County
- San Bernardino County
- San Diego County
- Ventura County
- Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim area
- Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura area
- Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario area
- San Diego-Carlsbad
The calculator displays the “living wage” needed to support your family size, as well as the local minimum wage and poverty-wage, which is the salary threshold required for federal assistance. Across many states, minimum wage is enough to keep singles and some small families above the poverty line, but well below the salary required to pay all basic expenses.
The calculator includes required hourly wages for single parents as well as one- and two-income households with either zero, one, two or three dependents. Researchers also created statewide breakdowns as well as figures for counties and major metropolitan areas within each state. It is based on the assumption that the person is working full time, or approximately 2,080 hours per year.
For California as a whole, the living wage (in the hourly amount) for on adult with no kids is $18.66. The amount goes up dramatically with the addition of children: for one, it jumps to $40:34; for two, it’s $50; and for three, it’s $66.02.
For two adults where only one is working, the living age is $30.32 breaks down as follows: $30.26 with no children; $36.85 with one child; $40.83 with two children; and $46.49 with three kids. This model assumes that one adult is working full-time while the other adult provides full-time child care, according to MIT.
And for two working adults (broken down per adult), it’s $15.13 when there are no children, $21.76 when there is one child, $27.08 when there are two children and $33.24 when there are three children.
The tool also further crunches the numbers in all 58 counties in California, as well as certain metropolitan areas.
In Los Angeles County, for instance, the living wage is higher than the state’s across all categories.
It’s $19.35 for one adults with no child. For a single parent, it’s $42.41 with one child, $51.91 with two kids and $67.54 with three children.
For two adults in the situation where only one works, the living wage breaks down to $32.08 with no children, $39.06 with one child, $43.03 with two children and $48.44 with three kids.
And when two adults are working, it’s as follows: $16.04 when there are no children; $22.79 when there is one child; $28.04 when there are two kids and $34.00 when there are three children.
Income data is pulled from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and expense calculations are based on public information, including U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development housing costs figures.
To check the needed minimum income and cast breakdown for all states, counties and metropolitan areas, visit the MIT Living Wage Calculator portal.