Living Wage Online Tool Calculates Income Needed to Get Around in California, LA County


The money is visible in an archive photo. (Getty Images)

If you’re struggling to pay your bills despite having a stable income, you may just be penalized by the high cost of living in your state, county, or metro area.

An updated tool from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology helps Americans determine if a person’s income is enough to live comfortably in their area.

MIT Living Wage Calculator provides a breakdown of typical expenses for individuals and families of up to five people, then determines the income needed to cover basic expenses for each family size.

Here’s where to find the data for counties and metropolitan areas in Southern California.

The calculator displays the “living wage” needed to support your family size, as well as the local minimum wage and the poverty wage, which is the threshold wage required for federal assistance. In many states, the minimum wage is enough to keep singles and some small families above the poverty line, but well below the wage required to pay for all basic expenses.

The calculator includes the hourly wages required for single parents as well as for one or two income households with zero, one, two or three dependents. The researchers also created state-wide breakdowns as well as numbers for counties and major metropolitan areas within each state. It is based on the assumption that the person works full time, or approximately 2,080 hours per year.

For California as a whole, the living wage (in hourly amount) for an adult without children is $ 18.66. The amount increases considerably with the addition of children: for one, it climbs to 40: 34 $; for two, it’s $ 50; and for three, it’s $ 66.02.

For two adults, only one of whom is working, the working age is $ 30.32 and breaks down as follows: $ 30.26 without children; $ 36.85 with a child; $ 40.83 with two children; and $ 46.49 with three children. This model assumes that one adult works full-time while the other adult provides full-time child care, according to MIT.

And for two active adults (broken down by adult), it’s $ 15.13 when there are no children, $ 21.76 when there is a child, $ 27.08 when there is has two children and $ 33.24 when there are three children.

The tool also further analyzes the numbers in the 58 counties of California, as well as some metropolitan areas.

In Los Angeles County, for example, the living wage is higher than that of the state in all categories.

It’s $ 19.35 for an adult without children. For a single parent, it’s $ 42.41 with one child, $ 51.91 with two children, and $ 67.54 with three children.

For two adults in the situation where only one works, the living wage breaks down to $ 32.08 without children, $ 39.06 with one child, $ 43.03 with two children and $ 48.44 with three children.

And when two adults are working, it is as follows: $ 16.04 when there are no children; $ 22.79 when there is a child; $ 28.04 when there are two children and $ 34.00 when there are three children.

Income data is taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and expense calculations are based on public information, including housing cost figures from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

To check the minimum income requirement and distribution breakdown for all states, counties, and metropolitan areas, visit MIT Living Wage Calculator portal.


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