Press Releases

News from EPI More than Half of Los Angeles Families Struggle to Secure a Modest Standard of Living

In EPI’s Family Budgets and Income Sufficiency in Los Angeles, senior economist Elise Gould and economic analyst David Cooper calculate that more than half of Los Angeles families do not earn enough income to attain the modest but secure standard of living defined by EPI’s Family Budget Calculator. Gould and Cooper estimate that family budgets for families in the Los Angeles metro area range from a low of $34,324 a year for a single person with no children, to $91,949 a year for families with two parents and three children. Roughly 2 million families, or 4.5 million of the region’s 8 million people, fall below this budget threshold.

“As Los Angeles debates raising the minimum wage, it’s important to recognize how few families in the city earn enough to have even a modest level of economic security,” said Cooper.

The share of people below the family budget threshold varies considerably by race. Only 34.2 percent of whites have incomes below what’s required by EPI’s Family Budget Calculator, while 77.7 percent of Hispanics fall below the threshold. Nearly 80 percent of non-citizens living in Los Angeles are below the family budget line.

“EPI’s Family Budget Calculator is an essential tool for calculating what it families really need to get by,” said Gould. “It goes beyond traditional measures like the poverty line to account for differences in regional cost-of-living, as well as basic needs like childcare, transportation, and more.”

For over a decade, EPI has calculated basic family budgets for every area of the United States. These budgets measure how much it costs various representative family types in over 600 local areas across the country to have a modest but adequate standard of living. They measure the income families need by estimating location-specific costs of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, taxes, and other necessities. As a result of EPI’s well-respected methodology, the Family Budget Calculator has been used and cited extensively by living-wage advocates, private employers, academics, and policymakers looking for comprehensive measures of economic security.

A nationwide update of the Family Budget Calculator will be completed in the summer of 2015.