Making Ends Meet 2017

A third (33%) of working age families in San Diego County can’t make ends meet.That’s more than 269,000 households, and more than 1 million individuals,living with incomes too low to cover basic expenses.San Diego County’s poverty rate of 13.8% vastly undercounts the number of families living in economic insecurity. Fully a third of all households headed by people under age 65 have incomes below the cost of living in the region. Based on the costs of basic family budget items, the Self-Sufficiency Standard indicates the yearly income families need just to get by. The basic budget starts at almost $28,000 a year for a single adult, which would require an hourly wage of at least $13.23 if working full-time all year long. The budget grows with family size and differs according to the ages of children in the family. Self-Sufficiency is the ability to afford the bare-bones costs of living without public or private assistance. The calculation of the standard includes only no-frills items like housing, food, transportation, child care, healthcare, and taxes.  

Poverty and Income in North County San Diego

  Click here to download report   Report describes poverty and income in North San Diego County  Poverty rates in North County vary widely among cities and racial groups   Slightly more than 12% of the population of Northern San Diego County lived below the federal poverty level in 2015. The region has less poverty than the 13.8% rate for the entire County, although four North County cities had higher rates. An analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data shows a stark racial difference in North County, where the poverty rate is lower for White people and higher for Latino, Black, and Asian people than in the County overall.  Highlights of the report include: ·        Poverty rates in Escondido, Oceanside, San Marcos, and Vista remained higher in 2015 than they had been before the 2008 recession. Those four cities had poverty rates higher than the County overall. ·        In every city, children were more likely to live in poverty – and senior citizens less likely – than the general population. ·        The median household income in North County was $75,095, with a range of $47,000 between the North County cities with the highest and lowest incomes. ·        The Accommodation and Food Services industry paid the least among civilian industries employing at least 20,000 North County residents: $28,035 for a year of full-time work.     Continue reading

Income and Poverty Report, 2016

Click here to download full report   Most families still worse off than before the recession   Flat Household Income:  Despite local improvements in the prior year, and much hailed increases in household median income at the national level, San Diego households’ median incomes were stuck at $67,871 for 2015. Persistent Poverty:  For the third year in a row, 15.6% of all City of San Diego residents (212,994) lived below the federal poverty threshold. Poverty rates remain higher than the pre-recession rate of 12.1% in 2007. Children in Poverty:  Nearly one in every five children (19.7%) in San Diego were living below the federal poverty line. This translates to 55,482 children in 2015, over 10,000 more than in pre-recession 2007.   Continue reading

Minimum Wage Impacts

Documented Impacts of Minimum Wage Increases on Job Growth, Business Health, Consumer Prices, and Family Spending An overview of the U.S. experience, with new findings from San Diego County   June 2016 Peter Brownell, PhD   Introduction and Summary DOWNLOAD REPORT HERE As the cost of living varies from place to place and increases over time, many states and cities have set minimum wages above the federal level and raised them repeatedly. In just the 15 years from 2000 through 2014, the federal minimum wage rose three times and 30 states raised their own wage floors an average of five times each to various levels above the federal wage.[1] In addition, at least nine cities and counties enacted higher local minimum wages during the same time period, with many more following suit or considering proposals to do so since 2014. [2]The minimum wage was first put in place by the U.S. federal government in 1938. It is one of our nation’s most tried and tested policies for improving the lives of the working poor and supporting economic growth through consumer spending. Continue reading

How have San Diego jobs and businesses fared through recent California minimum wage increases?

May 2016 The number of jobs in San Diego County has risen steadily in the past five years, continuing a healthy upward climb through two minimum wage increases. Data from the California Employment Development Department shows that the total number of nonfarm jobs in San Diego County rose continually between early 2012 and March 2016, on a trajectory that didn’t change when the California minimum wage increased from $8 to $9 in July 2014 and again to $10 in January 2016. San Diego County employers have hired an additional 75,800 workers since the state minimum wage rose to $9 in 2014.    Continue reading

The Economic Costs of San Diego County’s Ongoing Safety Net Failure

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY San Diego County’s failure to enroll eligible residents in three major federal and state safety net programs – CalFresh, CalWORKs, and Medi-Cal – is costing the local economy nearly $1 billion a year.  Continue reading

Poverty Report 2015

Five years after the national recession ended, the San Diego poverty rate remains stubbornly high, while the number of San Diegans living in official poverty has continued to grow. The problem is particularly dire for children and part-time workers in the city. Continue reading

Shorted: Wage Theft, Time Theft, and Discrimination in San Diego's Restaurant Industry

Wage theft is a national problem, especially in low-wage industries. In cities and states previously studied, the restaurant industry has consistently been found to be one of the most abusive. In San Diego County, 125,700 people –  Continue reading


Asians/Pacific Islander (API) is a broad category which obscures the diversity and heterogeneity of the people to whom it refers. However, because most of the API ethnic/ national origin groups make up a relatively small share of the overall US population, it can be challenging for demographers and other researchers to carry out detailed analysis using survey data. In an effort to address this, we use the most recent five years (2009-2013) of survey data from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) to examine household income and economic hardship in San Diego County. Click here to download full issue brief.


Full-time pay falls short of basic expenses for many San Diego County households Study finds 38% of working-age households have incomes too low for the cost of living The cost of a basic, no-frills lifestyle without public or private assistance is beyond the reach of 38% of all working age households in San Diego County, this new study shows. Continue reading