Financial stability report released by United Ways of California
Report reveals one in three California households do not have sufficient income to meet their basic costs of living


In July, United Ways of California published a new report Struggling to Get By: The Real Cost Measure in California 2015. The report measures the true cost of living in California’s communities and the hardships households face in meeting them. It uses the Real Cost Measure, a basic needs budget model that estimates the amount of income required to meet basic needs for a given household type.

Key report findings include:

  • 1 in 3 California households struggle to meet basic needs. This means 3.2 million households.
  • In Sacramento County, an average of 29 percent of households live below Real Cost Measure, with some communities facing 43 percent.
  • Households with 2 adults, 1 infant and 1 school-aged child needs $50,595 to get by in Sacramento County.
  • Struggling householders spend over 50 percent of their income on housing, and families living below the Federal Poverty Level can spend as much as 80 percent of their income on housing.
  • Two full-time, minimum wage jobs are not enough to sustain a family of four. Yet, two-person, two-child households with two full-time, minimum wage earners earn $33,280 in gross income still fall below the Real Cost Measure by $10,000 to $30,000, depending on where they live.

United Way CA Capital Region’s President and CEO, Stephanie McLemore Bray, introduced the study and researcher Betsy Block during the Sacramento Task Force on Income Inequality. Mayor Kevin Johnson has requested that the Task Force study the wage increase approaches utilized by other cities including examining cost of living adjustments tied to inflation, soliciting public input to create a balanced  proposal that is specifically tailored to Sacramento, and analyzing any possible exemptions that may be needed.

The task force is just one of the many groups dedicated to helping families thrive in our region, not just survive. UWCCR convenes the Sacramento Region Assets & Opportunities Network, a movement-oriented group of advocates, practitioners, and policy makers. Together, we will use the report’s regional data to develop innovative solutions that will make a positive difference in our communities. We are committed to helping lift more families out of poverty!

Visit United Ways of California’s website for the full report.