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A new study released this morning (March 6), reveals that 38% of San Diego County's working-age households can't afford a no-frills lifestyle without public or private assistance.

Even in households with someone working full-time, 23.5% have incomes too low to meet San Diego's high cost of living. This may seem shocking, but it is in line with similar previous studies.

The study was released by the Center on Policy Initiatives and Insight Center for Economic Development. The study was funded by United Way of San Diego County and the Leichtag Foundation.

The self-sufficiency standard (how much annual income is needed) for one adult is $27,655. For one adult and a preschooler it is $53,580. For two adults and an infant it's $62,277 and for two adults, an infant and a preschooler it's $84,739. According to U.S. Census Bureau data for 2011, San Diego County's median household income was $63,857 and median family income $74,633.

In cost-of-living surveys taken through the years, San Diego generally ranks among the most expensive metro areas, while income is moderately higher than the nation's. San Diegans are said to live on "psychic income" or pay the "sunshine tax" for the privilege of living in great weather all year.

The study notes that the lack of sufficient income drives down spending — one reason that retail sales have been anemic in recent years. Also, many families double up on housing and go without basic services, from childcare to car repairs.

The Great Recession hit San Diego: in (mostly) pre-recession 2007, 30% of households lived below the self-sufficiency standard. That has grown to 38%.

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Visduh March 7, 2014 @ 8:26 a.m.

Without taking anything away from these revelations, it would be valuable to know how this stacks up against some other cities. Is this, for example, pretty typical of the larger cities in California? Across the nation, what city has the lowest such percentage of the population?

With this large a slice of the population finding the metro area unaffordable, it is also interesting to note how many high-end neighborhoods, stores, restaurants, bars and entertainment venues exist right along-side poverty here. But is that unusual, or do all cities have such polarization?

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Don Bauder March 7, 2014 @ 8:53 a.m.

Visduh: You make interesting points. Orange County has posh communities, but some very poor Hispanic and Asian neighborhoods nearby. Ditto for Los Angeles and San Francisco.

What's needed is a study showing cost-of-living in each city compared with median household or family incomes. That would not be difficult to calculate. San Diego would come in poorly in such a study. Silicon Valley has very high housing prices, but very high salaries for the techies, too. You can get at part of these figures by looking at housing affordability numbers, which are a matter of public record. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder March 7, 2014 @ 8:48 a.m.

Michelle D. Schneider: You are correct. This is one explanation for families doubling and tripling up in the same house. Remember, too, that some of the low-paid workers such as in the hotel industry go back to Mexico where they live. Some go to Riverside County, where the cost-of-living is much lower. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 March 7, 2014 @ 9:11 a.m.

This is another worst case scenario consequence of the San Diego political culture documented in "Paradise Plundered" and Steven Erie needs to publish a new edition now that Doug Manchester is the new Plunderer-In-Chief who has regained control of City Hall with his ouster of Filner and election of his newest republican vassal-Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

Manchester has fleeced San Diego taxpayers at least as far back as Pete Wilson, while he pays his hotel employees starvation wages, to support the Pope Doug Oligarchy that rules and plunders San Diego with imperial impunity in spite of his destruction of the San Diego economy .

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Don Bauder March 7, 2014 @ 12:17 p.m.

Anon92107: Manchester begs for and gets public subsidies for his hotels. He uses his newspaper to propagandize for a public subsidy for a Chargers stadium. It will line his pockets because of his dowtown investments. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 March 7, 2014 @ 2:17 p.m.

Don, it appears that it is time for someone to report, and/or write a book about the full extent of Manchester's corruption, larceny of taxpayer millions, etc. that have destroyed families and quality of life in San Diego.

It's time for We The People to overthrow the plutocracy that controls San Diego so that San Diego can actually become America's Finest City and a model for the future of American Democracy.

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Don Bauder March 7, 2014 @ 8:01 p.m.

Anon92107: There is already an excellent book, "Paradise Plundered," by Steve Erie and two colleagues. It's up to Steve to write the followup. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 March 8, 2014 @ 11:17 a.m.

Don, it's time to turn the U-T Watchdog around to face into Manchester's Throne Room and do an investigative report on him that will make all the U-T deranged rants look like they are written by ignorant vassals.

Manchester has created far too many starving families in San Diego so he can live and act like an Emperor over San Diego.

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Don Bauder March 8, 2014 @ 1:42 p.m.

Anon92107: After a number of losses, Manchester has had some successes: his paper smeared Filner and other media followed; Manchester picked Faulconer as his lackey and pumped him up and got him elected. Now the U-T's political reporter has gone to work for Faulconer. I suspect that reporter will still be working for Papa Doug. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 March 9, 2014 @ 12:07 p.m.

Too bad we can't find anyone to expose Manchester expose him for what he is or San Diego shall just keep going down the sewer unless we can end his oligarchy. Guess we'll just have to start a mass migration to Colorado.

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Don Bauder March 9, 2014 @ 6:26 p.m.

Anon92107: There are bad guys in Colorado, too. Don't you remember those black hat/white hat movies about the Old West? In fact, Denver stock market activity has been almost as raucous and corrupt as that in Vancouver. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 March 10, 2014 @ 3:55 a.m.

Nevertheless, the Manchester Oligarchy continues to rule in San Diego, threatening the future of San Diego using the power of his media empire, and no one is exposing him to all San Diegans so as to warn us that we must unite to fight back to protect our Democracy and long-term future quality of life.

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Anon92107 March 10, 2014 @ 12:45 p.m.

P.S. I notice that Goldsborough is publishing a new book in a month or so, wonder if he would be willing to expose Manchester like he did the Downtown Business Association? Would the Reader be willing to sponsor him for that purpose?

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Don Bauder March 10, 2014 @ 8:23 p.m.

Anon92107: I don't know anything about an upcoming Goldsborough book. Nor do I know anything about a previous book of his exposing San Diego's downtown oligarchs. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 March 11, 2014 @ 4:06 a.m.

Don, he wrote a article exposing DBA on VOSD, and much, much more must be said and done. I thought he was an ally of yours so I just made a suggestion.

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Don Bauder March 11, 2014 @ 8:17 a.m.

Anon92107: I didn't see his article in VOSD. Maybe I can find it. Is he writing a book on the topic? I have always liked Goldsborough's writing. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder March 10, 2014 @ 8:21 p.m.

Anon92107: I think you have to admit that the Reader is doing a good job exposing Manchester. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 March 11, 2014 @ 4:15 a.m.

Absolutely YES Don, you and the Reader are the best, and basically only journal that defends the people of San Diego against attacks by the Manchester Oligarchy today. Thank you for your excellent efforts on our behalf.

We need to take the fight for our rights to a higher level because Manchester is winning for now with his tyranny of lies that far too many believe without questioning.

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Don Bauder March 11, 2014 @ 8:23 a.m.

Anon92107: I would like to see Jim Goldsborough join in the fight. His columns in opposition to the Iraq war were superb. However, I faintly remember his writing a column in favor of taxpayer subsidies for billionaires' sports stadia. So I concluded at the time he did not grasp the corporate welfare crowd's control of San Diego. I hope I was wrong. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 March 11, 2014 @ 10:53 a.m.

Don, San Diego needs journalists like you, Goldsborough and Erie to focus on restoring control of our government to meeting the needs of We The People instead of the plundering Manchester Oligarchy.

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Don Bauder March 11, 2014 @ 7:55 p.m.

Anon92107: Steve Erie would be insulted to be called a journalist. He is a political science professor at UCSD. Best, Don Bauder

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jnojr March 9, 2014 @ 11:13 a.m.

I ask, yet again... why can't the people who "can't afford to live here" move? Why is that completely unacceptable? Why do we so desperately need over a million welfare recipients here?

Most places in the country have a lower cost of living and the same minimum wage. These folks would be better off there, wherever "there" is, but they have this idea that they have a natural human right to live at the beach, and if they can't afford it, someone else has to afford it for them. It's sickening.

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Don Bauder March 9, 2014 @ 11:46 a.m.

jnojr: One reason they don't move is they can't afford to do so. Another reason is that the people live in Mexico. I don't know that San Diego has a higher percentage of residents on welfare than other cities; it's certainly possible, and logical, but I have not seen those numbers.

One thing we do know that San Diego is a very big CORPORATE welfare town by comparison with many others. Best, Don Bauder

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danfogel March 10, 2014 @ 10:49 a.m.

"Another reason is that the people live in Mexico." If they work in SD and live in Mexico, then wouldn't their cost of living be quite a bit less there than if they live on this side of the border. Even a minimum wage job in SD is a lot better that than most can do south of the border. During our time in SD, we knew several people who worked in SD and lived in Mexico. Some of them were Mexicans with work permits. My wife's aunt with whom we lived at the time, had a house keeper who lived in TJ. As I recall, she came up M-F and did house keeping at several different houses. Her husband worked for a furniture company, I think as a driver. I'm sure that they made a lot more in SD than they could have in TJ and I know it was cheaper to live in TJ. We also new several people who moved to Mexico for that same reason. While they made a decent living in SD, it was a lot cheaper for them to live in Mexico.

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Don Bauder March 10, 2014 @ 11:38 a.m.

danfogel: Yes, the point I was trying to make is that the people who work in San Diego and live in TJ do OK financially. They have no reason to move. Best, Don Bauder

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