Nearly one in three California families do not have enough money to pay for basic necessities such as food, health care, taxes, rent and childcare, even though most families had at least one working adult, such as a The new study shows. United Ways of California.
New research takes into account more than just the federal poverty level, Which primarily focuses on the cost of food and does not reflect expenses such as housing and health care. The federal poverty level also does not account for regional variations in cost of living.
For example, in the Santa Clara County cities of Cupertino, Saratoga and Los Gatos, only 12% of households struggle with the cost of living, compared to more than half of households in eastern San Jose.
“We need a poverty measure that points to a decent standard of living,” Pete Manzo, CEO of United Ways of California, told a press conference. and that is one of the main reasons we have formulated the actual cost measure.”
The Real Cost Measurement, which uses data from the 2019 Census, sums up costs from taxes to childcare in various groups of California neighborhoods and reveals that 3.5 million households struggling financially are poorer by the federal poverty level. This is almost three times the number believed to be.
“The true extent of families struggling with deprivation remains hidden,” the researchers wrote. With eligibility for aid programs partly determined by federal poverty levels, many families are earning enough money to be ineligible while still failing to earn enough to support their basic needs.
For example, in Alameda County, a family of four with one preschooler and one school-aged child would need to earn $101,000 annually according to the actual cost measure, but only $51,000 according to the federal poverty level.
“The federal poverty level doesn’t really tell you what a family needs to live with the respect we all want,” Manzo said.