Los Angeles has the largest disparity between wages and rents in the entire nation, it's the least affordable place in the US for buying a house, and it's generally just a tough place to make ends meet, but it's still pretty shocking to learn that about 4.6 million people—57.3 percent of LA—are not enjoying even a "modest but adequate standard of living," says a study out from the Economic Policy Institute. The study looked at how much it costs to live simply but decently in the LA metro area, and the short answer is: nearly two-thirds of residents aren't making enough.
The study, via the Daily News, compares how much people actually make with estimates of how much they would need to make in order to pay for things like rent (so notoriously high here), "nutritionally adequate diets," transportation, and, if they have kids, childcare.
People who are single and have no kids still need to make an estimated $34,324 a year just to have decent living conditions, using data from multiple sources from 2013. Throw a kid in the mix and things get real expensive, real quick; $60,600 is the budget for a household with one parent and one child. Two parents with three children need to make almost $92,000 a year just to pay rent, buy food, and take care of basic needs, like healthcare and childcare.
The EPI calculated costs for eight types of families, from single people to households with two parents and three kids. When they took into account how much—or how little—those people are actually making (using info from the US Census's American Community Survey for 2011 through 2013), they discovered that 57.3 percent of people in LA aren't earning as much as they need to be just to meet the lowest threshold for getting by. That figure counts the members of families who do not meet the basic budget as individuals; 67 percent of kids in LA are living in families below the basic budget threshold.
And the lack is not spread around evenly. About a third of white people and nearly half of Asians (46.6 percent) are not earning enough, and a horrifying 77.7 percent of Latinos and 65.2 percent of black people are not meeting the minimum budget threshold.
The EPI says that its budget helps to get a sense of "what it actually takes to achieve a modest level of economic security" in LA, but looking at this is easy to see that that goal is very far out of reach for a huge number of people who already have lives—families, jobs, communities—here. The city is considering raising its minimum wage to $13.25 by 2017, with debate focusing on the impact that'll make on employers—but $13.25 still isn't really a living wage in LA right now (let alone in two years), so what about the impact on actual Angelenos?
· EPI's Family Budgets and Income Sufficiency in Los Angeles [EPI]
· Los Angeles is the Most Unequal Place in California [Curbed LA]
· Every Single Part of LA is Unaffordable on $13.25 an Hour [Curbed LA]