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News from EPI Updated Family Budget Calculator provides data on the cost of living in every county and major metropolitan area

Today, the Economic Policy Institute released an update to its signature Family Budget Calculator, which shows what’s required for families to attain an adequate—but modest—standard of living in communities throughout the country. The updated calculator contains data in 2020 dollars on the cost of living for 10 family types in all 3,142 counties (and county equivalents) and in all 613 metro areas. 

The Family Budget Calculator takes into account geographic differences in cost of living and factors in a broader range of expenses—including housing, food, transportation, child care, health care, and other basic necessities. 

The Family Budget Calculator is a stark reminder that many workers in low-wage jobs do not earn enough to meet their family’s basic needs. Even after adjusting for higher state and city minimum wages, there is nowhere in the country where a minimum-wage worker—even a single adult without children—earns enough to meet the requirements of their local family budget. 

San Francisco topped the list of most expensive metro areas, with a basic budget of $159,013 a year for a two-parent, two-child household. However, with a median family income of $142,481, incomes in San Francisco are higher than most. Meanwhile, although its basic budget for a two-parent, two-child household of only $62,741 makes the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission metro area in Texas the least expensive metro area in the country, the median family income is only $45,446—making this city much less affordable than the topline numbers indicate. 

“Our Family Budget Calculator goes beyond traditional measures like the poverty line, and it shows that families are struggling to make ends meet from coast to coast. It’s incumbent upon lawmakers to remedy this through policy reforms, such as raising the minimum wage, lowering child care costs, and making other necessities more affordable,” said Zane Mokhiber, EPI data analyst.