A look at the self-sufficiency standard – the income needed for families of various sizes to cover basic living expenses – and the san diegans whose wages don’t reach that level.
That’s more than 269,000 households, and more than 1 million individuals, living with incomes too low to cover basic expenses.
San Diego County’s poverty rate of 13.8% vastly undercounts the number of families living in economic insecurity. Fully a third of all households headed by people under age 65 have incomes below the cost of living in the region. Based on the costs of basic family budget items, the Self-Sufficiency Standard indicates the yearly income families need just to get by. The basic budget starts at almost $28,000 a year for a single adult, which would require an hourly wage of at least $13.23 if working full-time all year long. The budget grows with family size and differs according to the ages of children in the family. Self-Sufficiency is the ability to afford the bare-bones costs of living without public or private assistance. The calculation of the standard includes only no-frills items like housing, food, transportation, child care, healthcare, and taxes.
Women and children are most impacted by the gap between household incomes and the basic cost of living. Almost half (48%) of all households with children in the county can’t make ends meet, more than double the rate for households without children.
The costs of living balloon as family size grows, while incomes often don’t grow. Childcare and miscellaneous costs are particularly high for infants and preschool children. In addition, more than two thirds (69%) of households headed by single women have incomes too low to cover expenses, a significantly higher share than other types of households. Throughout the County, 100,931 children live in singleparent households with insufficient income, and 79,737 of them are children of single mothers.
Race & Ethnic Inequity
The basic costs of living in San Diego County, as represented in the Self-Sufficiency budget, are the same across all racial and ethnic groups, but incomes fall short much more often for Latino and Black families.
Latino households in the region are more than twice as likely as White households to live with incomes below the Self-Sufficiency Standard. However, all major racial and ethnic groups are affected, with many more families economically distressed than the County’s official poverty rate, which is 13.8% of the population and 12.2% of households.
With a median annual income of $30,569, compared to $41,447 for men, households headed by women are most likely to fall below the Self-Sufficiency Standard.
The gender pay gap is larger in some major industries, such as tourism and service industries. Only in construction, where relatively few women are employed, do women tend to earn more than men.