Living Wage online tool calculates income needed to get by in California, LA County

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If you’re struggling to pay your bills despite having a steady income, the high cost of living in your state, county, or metropolitan area may just be putting you off.

A tool updated by 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, then determines the income needed to meet basic expenses for each family size.

Here’s where to find 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 poverty wage, which is the wage threshold required for federal assistance. In many states, the minimum wage is enough to keep single people and some small families above the poverty line, but well below the wage required to pay all basic expenses.

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

For California as a whole, the living wage (in hourly amount) for an adult with no children is $18.66. The amount increases considerably with the addition of children: on the one hand, it increases to $40:34; for two, it’s $50; and for three, it’s $66.02.

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

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

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

In Los Angeles Countyfor example, the living wage is higher than the state wage in all categories.

It’s $19.35 for an adult with no 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 a situation where only one works, the living wage breaks down into $32.08 without children, $39.06 with one child, $43.03 with two children and $48.44 with three children.

And when two adults work, it’s: $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 necessary income and caste distribution for all states, counties and metropolitan areas, visit the MIT Living Wage Calculator gate.

Michael A. Bynum