SAN DIEGO–Three in ten working-age households in San Diego County can’t meet basic expenses. Almost a third of non-retired households in San Diego County have incomes lower than what they need to meet basic living expenses without going into debt. Half of those struggling households include someone with a full-time job.
These sobering findings from Center on Policy Initiatives’ new report, Making Ends Meet in San Diego County 2010, demonstrate deep economic hardship beyond the high numbers who are unemployed. The data show clearly that good jobs that pay well above minimum wage are necessary to strengthen the middle class and revive the economy.
The study, done in collaboration with United Way, measured local costs of housing, child care, food and other no-frills expenses to determine a bare-bones budget for families of various sizes. Using census income data, it found that more than 229,000 non-retired households in the county — 3 in 10 — earn less than that “self-sufficiency” level. That includes more than 180,000 households with at least one person working full-time or part-time.
Vicky Maheu, a community college teacher in San Diego for 28 years, said at CPI’s press conference yesterday that she has resorted to selling her belongings online after her part-time hours were cut. She said she would leave San Diego, but her elderly parents need her here.
“I basically can’t pay my bills on time,” Maheu said. “Now I have to ask people I know if they have things I can sell. I won’t ever be able to retire, the way things are going.”
Mechanic Jose Paniagua, of Chula Vista, said he often works 16 hours a day but he and his wife were about to lose their small home to foreclosure until his daughter’s family moved in with them to share expenses.
Seiko Sudo, of Vista, said she earns only $9.50 an hour as an in-home health aide. Even with a second job teaching about butterflies as a Monarch Program docent, she can barely pay her bills and can’t afford to replace her 1986 car.
Among the findings in Making Ends Meet: A single person needs to earn at least $13.13 an hour, or $27,733 a year, to meet basic expenses. By contrast, California’s minimum wage amounts to only $16,896 for a year of full-time work, and even that is higher than the official federal poverty level of $11,161 for a single adult.
Budget and income needs are higher for families, as costs rise for essentials like child care, food and transportation.
CPI’s published report is available at www.onlineCPI.org,