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United Way CEOs, legislators unveil study on true costs of living in California, exposing financial struggles

The Real Cost Measure data compiled provides deep insight into the financial struggles families face that aren’t captured by the outdated federal poverty measurement.
Person Holding Empty Wallet (FILE)
Posted at 4:26 PM, Jun 06, 2023

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — CEO’s from several United Way organizations, in partnership with California legislators, unveiled their new study on the costs of living in the Golden State.

The Real Cost Measure data compiled provides deep insight into the financial struggles families face that aren’t captured by the outdated federal poverty measurement. Things like the cost of food, housing, health care, child care, transportation, and other basic needs.

For example, taking a look at Kern County in 2021, the estimated households below the real cost measure stood at about 40 percent or around 91,000. Other findings highlighted in the data showed of those households, 68 percent, held less than a high school diploma.

The Real Cost Measure

While the median household income was around $60,500 in 2021. The real cost measure budget for that year in Kern County was over $74,000.

Across the county, Black and Latino households had a disproportionate number below the standard. Out of an area of 91,000 homes, 57,000 were Latino.

Pete Manzo, CEO of United Ways of California, says this research will help them and lawmakers target areas of need throughout the state.

“The point of doing this study is so that communities can have conversations about what to do about this. And there are things, as some of our speakers have mentioned, that have been done to help alleviate these challenges, and there’s more that we can do.”

To find out where your household falls on the dashboard, you can visit the Real Cost Measure in California 2023 website. There you can plug in your county and household information to see how much it costs for you to make ends meet. You can also get connected to resources like affordable internet, income support, and affordable childcare.