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Struggling to Get By: The Real Cost Measure in California 2015

Publication date: 
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Nearly a third of California’s households “struggle each month to meet basic needs,” largely because of the state’s high cost of living, a new study by United Ways of California concludes.

The study relies on what the organization calls a “real cost measure” that goes well beyond the Census Bureau’s official poverty measure, which dates back to the early 1960s and pegs California’s rate at just half of what the United Ways study found.

The organization’s methodology is, however, similar in thrust to an alternative poverty measure that includes all forms of income and is adjusted for the cost of living. By that measure, nearly a quarter of California’s 39 million residents are living in poverty.

The United Ways study is centered on a household budget “composed of costs all families much address, such as food, housing, transportation, child care, out-of-pocket health expenses and taxes.”


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