Benchmark for a Family-Sustaining Wage in Los Angeles
Prepared for the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency
BY: MICHAEL MATSUNAGA and DANIEL FLAMING, ECONOMIC ROUNDTABLE
June 2009, 9 pages available in PDF
A budget for providing basic family necessities in Los Angeles calls for an annual income of $49,135 for one parent with two children and $54,078 for two parents with two children. The income for providing basic family necessities is about two and a half times greater than the poverty threshold. The 2008 poverty threshold for a family with one parent and two children was $17,346; for a family with two parents and two children it was $21,834.
This analysis examines the typical wage level of heads of households in families in the City of Los Angeles that have sustaining incomes. The purpose is to identify the critical wage that together with other components of family income enables families to achieve a sustainable budget.
Forty percent of families with sustaining incomes, that is incomes in the 240-260 percent range of the poverty level, have one earner. The median earnings for these earners is about $36,500. This equates to an hourly wage of about $17.50. The other 60 percent of families have 2 or more earners. The median earnings for heads of households in this group is about $25,000, which puts their hourly wage at around $12.00. When we look at these two groups of families together, the wage level that typically enables families to have a sustaining income is $28,000 a year or about $14 an hour. This benchmark for a family-supporting job represents the most typical earnings level in a broad range of family types with significant diversity in earnings levels.