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    Center on Policy Initiatives

More Work, Less Pay

Individual Earnings Drop as Household Income Rises in San Diego, 2017 Census Data Show

More San Diegans were working in 2017, but their earnings lost ground.

The median household income in the City of San Diego jumped to $76,662, up 5% from 2016, largely because more people per household worked. But inflation-adjusted individual earnings dropped for the third year in a row, according to analysis by the Center on Policy Initiatives (CPI) of U.S. Census Bureau data released this morning.

“The good news is households have higher incomes, but only because more family members are working,” said CPI Research Director Peter Brownell, PhD. “Wages are still lower than before the recession in real dollars. When you factor in inflation, people are still losing ground.”

Senior citizens were one group more likely to be working. Among people over age 65 who live in San Diego, more than one in five – 36,571 seniors – worked in 2017. That’s 26% higher than the share of seniors working in 2007, the year before the recession began.

San Diego’s poverty rate was unchanged at 13.1%, higher than the 12.3% of the national population living in poverty. The poverty rate in all of San Diego County dropped slightly to 11.8%.

Poverty was more common among families with children. Almost a third of San Diego households headed by single mothers had incomes below the poverty threshold, and 18.3% of all children in San Diego lived in poverty in 2017, significantly more than the previous year.

Racial and gender disparity in the city continued. Poverty rates for racial and ethnic groups reported by Census were 8.9% for White, 10.2% for Asian, 19.4% for Latino, and 20.2% for Black. The poverty rate among San Diego women increased slightly from 2016 to 13.9%, while the rate of men living in poverty dropped by the same amount to 12.4%.

Income levels that define poverty don’t change based on cost of living or location. In 2017, the poverty threshold was less than $12,488 for a single individual or $24,858 for a family of two adults and two children, with other levels for other size families. In high-cost cities like San Diego, people making much more than those levels can’t cover basic expenses without public or private assistance.

Press coverage of our analysis:

Written by CPI San Diego

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