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Feeling the sunshine tax squeeze

Study says childless single adult has to make almost $28,000

Share of San Diego County families with incomes below self-sufficiency
Share of San Diego County families with incomes below self-sufficiency

According to the federal government, 13.8 percent of San Diego County residents are living in poverty. But according to a study released today (January 31) by the Center on Policy Initiatives, that federal figure is too optimistic. Actually, one-third of people in the county (one million persons in 269,000 households) have incomes too low to meet their expenses.

The federal poverty rate doesn't take into account a critical factor: the high cost of living in the county. It's one of the highest in the United States, but incomes are only moderately higher. San Diegans are squeezed by what's called the sunshine tax.

The Center for Policy Initiatives applied the Self-Sufficiency Standard, developed by Dr. Diana Pearce at the University of Washington. This standard takes such costs as housing, transportation, child care, food, and taxes into account. Even a single adult with no children must earn almost $28,000 a year to get by without public or private assistance, says the Center on Policy Initiatives. That requires an hourly wage of $13.23. Private assistance includes living with parents, going to soup kitchens, free child care, etc.

A single adult with a preschooler and school-age child needs a whopping hourly wage of $31.32 to make do, assuming no public or private assistance, according to the study.

The yearly income needed to support two adults, one preschooler, and two school-age chlldren is $97,058.

San Diego County women are especially hard-hit: they earn 74 cents for every dollar paid to men. Among households headed by single mothers, 69 percent have incomes below the bare-bones Self-Sufficiency Standard.

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Share of San Diego County families with incomes below self-sufficiency
Share of San Diego County families with incomes below self-sufficiency

According to the federal government, 13.8 percent of San Diego County residents are living in poverty. But according to a study released today (January 31) by the Center on Policy Initiatives, that federal figure is too optimistic. Actually, one-third of people in the county (one million persons in 269,000 households) have incomes too low to meet their expenses.

The federal poverty rate doesn't take into account a critical factor: the high cost of living in the county. It's one of the highest in the United States, but incomes are only moderately higher. San Diegans are squeezed by what's called the sunshine tax.

The Center for Policy Initiatives applied the Self-Sufficiency Standard, developed by Dr. Diana Pearce at the University of Washington. This standard takes such costs as housing, transportation, child care, food, and taxes into account. Even a single adult with no children must earn almost $28,000 a year to get by without public or private assistance, says the Center on Policy Initiatives. That requires an hourly wage of $13.23. Private assistance includes living with parents, going to soup kitchens, free child care, etc.

A single adult with a preschooler and school-age child needs a whopping hourly wage of $31.32 to make do, assuming no public or private assistance, according to the study.

The yearly income needed to support two adults, one preschooler, and two school-age chlldren is $97,058.

San Diego County women are especially hard-hit: they earn 74 cents for every dollar paid to men. Among households headed by single mothers, 69 percent have incomes below the bare-bones Self-Sufficiency Standard.

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Comments
16

I'm disabled and receive SSDI. SSDI is federal money that doesn't take into account the cost of living per state. The amount I get is less than $9.00 per hour based on a 40hr week. Unfortunately it's too high to qualify for additional help like SNAP. A perfect Catch 22. This year I got a $10.00/month cost of living increase(didn't get one last year). I also got a 10.00/month increase in my Medicare charge. I guess I should be thankful I broke even instead of losing money. I'm quite sure things will NOT be improving over the next four years.

Feb. 1, 2017

GoofyAngie: Unfortunately, you can't count on a better break from government transfer payments. Under this administration, even more money will wind up with the top 1 percent if Trump gets his tax plan. Trump says he won't touch Social Security or Medicare, but who believes him? Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 1, 2017

For the past few years, Obama years I must remind everyone, it was deemed that the cost of living had stayed flat or nearly flat. So I saw no boost or a tiny boost in both Social Security and my VA allowance. Personally, our water bill went up enough to justify a couple percentage points, and the SDGE rates are also up. Where was any saving? Well, gasoline, which gyrates all across the board, came down, but I can think of nearly nothing else that did. I have a weakness for fresh fish, and even the lowest-cost kind keeps rising in price.

Feb. 1, 2017

Visduh: One of the reasons the government keeps saying that there is almost no inflation is that officials figure that many products, such as cars, have improved in quality through the years. So even though you spend a higher percentage of household income on cars, you are told their price is not going up. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 1, 2017

sounds like cooking the books with dry ice

Feb. 2, 2017

Murphyjunk: I think this method for understating inflation was created because the federal government feared it would not have the funds for cost of living payments. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 2, 2017

San Diego residents believe in the Wallmart economy. They think $10 an hour is enough for anybody (but them). Low wage, no/low benefit, part-time jobs are an investment in future poverty. San Diego is way ahead of most in that investment.

Feb. 1, 2017

AlexClarke: The San Diego business establishment is fighting an increase in the minimum wage, and not genuinely tackling the homeless situation.

As I have said before, nothing sufficient will be done about the homeless until their presence starts biting into the establishment, such as the Padres and the real estate industry. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 1, 2017

Sociopaths "on steroids."

Feb. 1, 2017

Flapper: You wouldn't suggest there are sociopaths on steroids in Washington, D.C., would you? Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 1, 2017

they don't need steroids there to behave the way they do.

Feb. 2, 2017

Murphyjunk: You mean booze will do the trick in D.C.? Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 2, 2017

I don't know what got into me--I meant to say hemorrhoid sociopaths on steroids.

Feb. 2, 2017

Flapper: Maybe that's what got into you: hemorrhoids. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 2, 2017

Euphemism for pain in the a$$.

Feb. 2, 2017

Flapper: I think roughly 100 percent of sociopaths on steroids deserve the hemorrhoid adjective despite its redundancy. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 4, 2017

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