Calculating a Living Wage

What is A Living Wage for Sonoma County?

The California Budget Project (CPB) calculates that a self-sufficiency or living wage for Sonoma County in 2013 was $20.51 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).

Sonoma County - Basic Self-Sufficiency Wage

Single Adult $15.94 an hour
Single Parent Family (two children) $37.94 an hour
Two Parent Family (one working and two children) $29.50 an hour
Two parent Family (two children) $20.51 an hour (standard calculation for a living or self-sufficiency wage)

sonoma county monthly income

California Budget Project - Making Ends Meet: How Much Does it Cost to Raise A Family in California 2013?

This report estimates the amount that families and single adults need to earn in order to achieve a modest standard of living. Statewide, this analysis estimates that:

• A single adult needs an annual income of $32,625, equivalent to an hourly wage of $15.69. The county with the highest annual budget for a single adult is Marin County ($38,248 a year), while the county with the lowest income needed to make ends meet is Kings County ($25,965 a year).

• A single-parent family with two children needs an annual income of $74,477, equivalent to an hourly wage of $35.81. The county with the highest annual budget for a single-parent family is Marin County ($96,842 a year), while the county with the lowest income needed to make ends meet is Modoc County ($58,164 a year).

• A two-parent family with one parent working and two children needs an annual income of $60,771, equivalent to an hourly wage of $29.22. The county with the highest annual budget for a two-parent family with one employed parent is Marin County ($71,646 a year), while the county with the lowest income needed to make ends meet is Modoc County ($50,350 a year).

• A family with two working parents and two children needs an annual income of $81,553, equivalent to both parents working full-time, each with an hourly wage of $19.61. The county with the highest annual budget for a two-working- parent family is Marin County ($99,342 a year), while the county with the lowest income needed to make ends meet is Modoc County ($66,385 a year).

The budget categories encompassed by the CBP’s family budget analysis are: housing and utilities, child care, transportation, food, health care, miscellaneous expenses (including telephone service, housekeeping supplies, and other basic costs), and taxes. This report also assumes that in a two-adult household with only one parent working, the other adult takes care of child care needs.

Many families in California live on budgets that are smaller than those estimated in this analysis. This report assumes that families do not receive public services or job-based benefits that might alleviate the costs of certain budget items. For example, this report assumes that families bear the full cost of health insurance, even though many families have access to either job based coverage – in which employers share the cost – or public health coverage programs, such as Medi-Cal. Other services not accounted for in this analysis include housing vouchers, subsidized child care, and nutritional assistance. Moreover, many households rely on family members or friends for child care assistance, relieving them of an otherwise costly expense.

By estimating the income needed to meet basic needs without these and other kinds of assistance, the CBP’s basic family budget analysis examines what is required of families if they are to cover the costs of living on their own.

Is the Economy Meeting the Needs of California Families?

The family budgets presented in this analysis raise the question of whether California’s economy is meeting the needs of workers and their families. In many cases, the budgets require an hourly wage that is above what many workers actually make.

In 2012, the median hourly wage in California was $19.07. For a single parent raising two children, the CBP estimates that the parent would need to earn $35.81 an hour – nearly twice the median wage – to fully cover the costs of housing, child care, transportation, health care, food, taxes, and other necessary expenses.

Wage stagnation and a tight job market are making it difficult for many families to achieve basic economic security. California lost 1.4 million jobs in the Great Recession, and wages and income have been slow to recover for many of the state’s workers. In 2012, the average wage of workers in the bottom fifth of the wage distribution were 5.9 percent below their value in 2006, the last full year before the recession began in California.

Though this report assumes that wages are the sole source of a family’s income, even factoring in other possible sources of income shows that families are struggling relative to how they were faring before the recession began. The median household income – which includes sources of income besides wages – was $57,020 in 2012, nearly 10 percent below the $62,998 median in 2006, after adjusting for inflation.

The weakness in wages following the Great Recession compounds a longer-term erosion of the purchasing power of wages for workers in the bottom half of the earnings distribution. Between 1979 (the first year for which data are available) and 2012, the inflation-adjusted hourly wage fell by 12.7 percent for low-wage workers and by 2.6 percent for the median California earner.

To download the entire report by the California Budget Project click here.
http://www.cbp.org/pdfs/2013/131212_Making_Ends_Meet.pdf