The San Francisco Chronicle has a heartrending story about a couple that earns $53,000 a year, but can only afford a small rental in an icky San Francisco neighborhood:
The hard truth is that $53,000 a year doesn’t cut it anymore in the Bay Area. Tens of thousands of working families in the region, even those with what many would consider decent-paying jobs, find a modestly comfortable standard of living is out of their reach.
A family of four in the Bay Area with two working adults must earn $77,069, equaling an hourly wage of $18.53, just to pay for basic necessities, a study released today calculates. If only one adult works, that figure falls to $53,075, largely because the family doesn’t have to pay for child care, according to the report by the California Budget Project, a liberal Sacramento research group. But that one wage-earner must make $25.52 an hour.
And a single parent with two children needs to take in $65,864 annually, at an hourly wage of $31.67, to cover expenses, the Budget Project figures.
Statewide, the two-working-parent family needs an annual income of $72,343 to cover necessities; the family with one working adult must earn $50,383.
That’s in a state with one of the highest minimum hourly wages in the country – $7.50. In San Francisco, the minimum wage is even higher, $9.14. The federal minimum wage is $5.85.
“Most Californians live on less than $50,000,” said Michael Shires, an associate professor of public policy at Pepperdine University.
The Bay Area is by many measures the richest region in the United States. Median household income – the level at which half of households are above and half below – was $62,024 in 2000, the highest in the nation, according to the Census Bureau.
But that means that almost half of all households in the region don’t take in what the Budget Project reckons is needed to make ends meet. Those families often must do without some of the things viewed as essential to middle-class life, such as health insurance or a separate bedroom for the kids.
You have to plough all the way through article’s hard luck stuff to find the proposed solution, which is, of course, more government money:
The project says its findings show a need for public spending on social programs, such as subsidized child care and health coverage. Health spending is at the center of a major policy debate in California, where Gov. Schwarzenegger and state lawmakers are weighing plans for universal coverage.
“Many families may need assistance to make ends meet,” said Ross, the project’s executive director.
I’d like to propose my own solution, which is one that my parents used when they were living in an economically untenable situation: move somewhere else. If the Bay Area is so expensive, move someplace cheaper. That’s what Americans have been doing since the very first settlers. If they can’t make it in one place, they move to another. When did it become a Constitutional right to stay in the geographic region of your choice, a right so important that the taxpayers have to cough up the money so that you can do so?