Calculating a Living Wage


What is A Living Wage for Sonoma County in 2017?

The California Budget and Policy Project calculates that a self-sufficiency or living wage for Sonoma County in 2017 was $22.35 an hour for two parents each working full-time to support two children and to pay for housing, transportation, health care, child care, and food (see below). The majority of working poor families in Sonoma County are comprised of two parents and two children and hence we use calculations for that family type determine the living wage level.

Sonoma County - Basic Self-Sufficiency Wage

Single Adult $18.17 an hour
Single Parent Family (two children) $36.78 an hour
Two Parent Family (one working and two children) $38.10 an hour
Two parent Family (two children) $22.35 an hour (standard calculation for a living or self-sufficiency wage)

(Full-time work is defined as 35 hours per week and year round is defined as 50 weeks per year).

 

Excerpt from “Making Ends Meet: How Much Does It Cost to Support A Family in California 2017” California Budget and Policy Project

To download a copy of the report click here:
http://northbayjobswithjustice.org/assets/uploads/2018/01/Making-Ends-Meet-12072017.pdf


Introduction:

California is known as the Golden State: a land of abundant opportunities. Living up to this name means ensuring that California offers all families and individuals a chance to thrive. Yet many Californians are far from thriving; they are struggling just to meet their basic needs. Understanding the challenges these families and individuals face is an important step toward ensuring basic economic security for all Californians.

This Making Ends Meet report shines a light on the economic challenges faced by many Californians by showing the cost of supporting a family or a single individual in different parts of the state. To do so, this report presents basic family budgets that account for the cost of modest housing, a nutritious diet, necessary child care, transportation, health care, and other basic items such as clothing, housekeeping supplies, and telephone service, along with income and payroll taxes. These budgets estimate the amount of income that families or single adults would need to support themselves through earnings only, without government benefits or supports. By presenting detailed estimates of the basic cost of living in different parts of the state, this report complements other approaches to understanding the economic challenges faced by California residents. Employment rates
indicate how many Californians are able to earn income through work, but do not reveal whether the income that workers earn is enough to support their families. The official poverty measure and the more robust Supplemental Poverty Measure (or the related California Poverty Measure) estimate how many Californians lack adequate financial resources, but do not directly identify the cost of meeting basic needs or show how family budget components affect different types of households.

This report aims to fill that gap. In doing so, Making Ends Meet is a counterpart to other efforts – such as the United Ways of California’s Real Cost Measure – that investigate the extent to which families and single adults in California are able to support themselves through earnings alone. The costs to cover basic needs vary across households, so this report estimates basic family budgets for four household types: a single adult, a single-parent family, a two-parent family with one working parent, and a two working-parent family. For the families with children, these budgets assume that families have two children: one of preschool-age and one of school-age. Costs for some items included in these budgets – especially housing – differ substantially across California, so this report shows family budgets for each of the 58 counties in the state. In estimating these basic family budgets, this report strives to use up-to-date information that is as specific to California as possible, adjusts for regional differences in costs where feasible, and focuses on the cost of meeting basic needs with a modest quality of goods and services.

On a statewide level, this report estimates that a family with two working parents and two children needs roughly $76,000 annually, on average, to cover basic necessities, while a two-parent family with one working parent needs about $59,000 per year.3 A single-parent family with two children needs approximately $66,000 per year to cover basic expenses, on average, while a single adult requires nearly $28,000. These statewide averages mask significant differences across counties. For example, in San Francisco County, which has the highest estimated costs, a two-working-parent family needs roughly $111,000 per year to make ends meet, averages mask significant differences across counties. For example, in San Francisco County, which has the highest estimated costs, a two-working-parent family needs roughly $111,000 per year to make ends meet, Making Ends Meet aims to provide valuable information for stakeholders who are concerned about Californians’ economic security. State, local, and national policy choices can make a difference in ensuring that Californians are able to make ends meet. Effective strategies to close the gap between families’ resources and needs include policies that directly reduce the cost of meeting basic needs, such as increasing the availability of affordable housing, child care subsidies, and public health insurance.

Policies that boost incomes are also effective tools for helping families to make ends meet. These can include wage increases, tax credits, and direct financial support for people who are unable to earn sufficient income through work.