Struggling to Get By: The Real Cost Measure in California 2015 is a new financial stability report that measures the real cost of living in California’s communities.
Struggling to Get By introduces the Real Cost Measure, a basic needs budget approach to better understand the challenges facing California households. A basic needs budget approach is intuitive and easy for most people to understand, as it is composed of things all families must address such as food, housing, transportation, childcare, out of pocket health expenses, and taxes. A basic needs budget approach takes into account different costs of living in different communities, and also conveys a better sense of the hardship for families with income below the basic needs budget level as it invokes the notion of tradeoffs between competing needs—if you have an inadequate level of income, do you sacrifice on food, gas, or childcare?
Among the questions Struggling to Get By seeks to answer are: What is the true cost of living for struggling households? What do we know about these households and the challenges they face every day? What do their family configurations look like? How many are led by one or more working adults, and more.
In answering these questions, Struggling to Get By explores the Real Cost Measure through different lenses. At the geographic level, we conduct “apples to apples” comparisons among counties, regions and neighborhoods (through public use microdata areas). We also discuss challenges facing specific households such as single mothers, households with young children, households of color and seniors.