Struggling to Get By: The Real Cost Measure in California 2015 is a 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?
United Way Monterey County has complied our own region-specific data; our key findsings are:
Households of color struggle disproportionately...
• Across the state, African Americans and Latinos have a disproportionate number of households with incomes below the Real Cost Measure. In this area, of the 39,737 households below the Real Cost Measure, 26,404 are Latino. Families with children face a larger barrier to economic security.
• 57% of households with children under six struggle, a rate signficantly higher than the rest of the area.
• Single mothers are most likely to struggle. 63% percent in the area are below the Real Cost Measure.
Families work, but don’t earn enough…
• 90% of households below RCM have at least one working adult.
• 53% of heads of household who work are employed full-time and year round.
• A family of four (2 adults, one infant, one school-age child) would need to hold more than 3 full-time, minimum-wage jobs to achieve economic security. 
High housing costs are a major challenge for struggling households...
• 47% of all households in the area spend more than 30% of their income on housing.
Click here to read all of our regional findings
UWMC is combating regional struggle through its pilot project, Pathways to Stability. Learn more about what we are doing to support our community!