County cost of living at almost $90k
By Dawn Hodson
A recent study by the Economic Policy Institute estimates it
takes $88,669 annually or $7,389 monthly for a family of four (two adults,
two children) to live in El Dorado County.
The estimated amounts are all in 2017 dollars.
The biggest expense is for transportation at $16,116 including
the cost of auto ownership and use and/or transit use.
The next biggest expense is health care at $12,953 including
insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs and assumes families purchase the
lowest cost bronze plans on the health insurance exchange established under the
Affordable Care Act.
Housing comes in third at $12,805 based on the Department of
Housing and Urban Development’s fair market rents, which represent rental costs
(shelter rent plus utilities) at the 40th percentile in a given area for
privately owned, structurally safe, and sanitary rental housing of a modest
nature with suitable amenities.
Food was the fourth biggest expense at $12,750 based on the
U.S. Department of Agriculture’s national “low-cost” food plan and adjusted to
each area using multipliers from Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap data. The
low-cost plan is the second-least-expensive of the four Official USDA Food
Plans and assumes almost all food is bought at the grocery store and then
prepared at home. The USDA food plans represent the amount families need to
spend to achieve nutritionally adequate diets.
The next biggest expense is child care at $12,480. That estimate
is based on the cost of center-based child care and family-based care for
4-year-olds and school-age children as reported by the Child Care Aware of
America. For one-child families, the assumption is the child is 4 years
old. For families with more than one child, the assumption the additional
children are ages 8, 12, and 16, respectively.
Taxes come in next at $11,255 and are calculated from the
National Bureau of Economic Research’s Internet TAXSIM, an online tool that
calculates information on federal personal income taxes, state income taxes and
federal Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes.
The last big expense is other necessities at $10,310 which
includes apparel, personal care, household supplies (which include items
ranging from furnishings to cleaning supplies to phone service), reading
materials, and school supplies. The costs for these items come from the Bureau
of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey and use data reported for
households in the second (from the bottom) fifth of households in the household
However, when comparing different areas in California, El Dorado
County is not the most or least expensive area to call home. Among
the 58 counties in the state, San Mateo County has
the highest cost of living at $156,292. The least expensive area is Merced
County at $70,675.
When it comes to incomes, in 2016 the median family income for
California was $77,359. (Data for 2017 won’t be released until later this
In the Sacramento Metropolitan area, which includes El Dorado
County, in 2016 the median income was $64,052.
On the high-end of incomes was the San Jose, Sunnyvale, Santa
Clara Metropolitan areas where the median income in 2016 was $110,040. On the
low-end was the Chico area where the median income was $45,177.
Unfortunately wage growth has not kept up with the cost of
living. According to the Economic Policy Institute, “productivity has grown
about 75 percent since 1973, while the compensation of the typical worker has
grown only about 12 percent.
“Since 1979, the hourly median wage has grown less than 10
percent in real dollars, or an average annual raise of barely 4 cents.”