Cost of living in L.A. County increases sharply over last decade

Samantha Tata

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






The cost of living in Los Angeles County has increased more than 18 percent in the last three years, and 46 percent in the last eight years, according to a new study.

“We take deep looks into the costs between counties,” said Jenny Chung Mejia, attorney and program manager for Insight Center for Community Economic Development, the entity that published the study. “Our figures are based on measures that fully encompass all aspects to the cost of living.”

Data is based on the self-sufficiency standard, which adds the costs of housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, taxes and miscellaneous costs to determine how much money is needed for a particular family type to survive.

A family of two adults, one teenager and one middle school child in Los Angeles County needs $57,466 annually to meet basic needs, or $4,789 monthly, according to statistics from the Center for Community Economic Development.

For a family of three, three full-time minimum wage jobs would meet only the most basic of expenses, the study revealed.

“The (self-sufficiency standard) is an alternative to the federal poverty line,” said Chung Mejia. “We felt that the (federal poverty line) was inadequately representing the true value of poverty.”

The federal poverty line is based primarily on food costs, which haven’t been updated since 1960, KPCC reported on Oct. 31.

The study tabulated the costs for basic necessities for families of various sizes throughout California. The first survey was published in 2003 and the figures were updated in 2008 and 2011, in conjunction with economists at the University of Washington.

“The CCED estimates … include an increase in health care costs,” said Dr. Shirley Svorny, CSUN economics professor. “Part of the increase in the cost reflects mandates from the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to cover dependents until age 26, which can increase a family’s health insurance premiums.

Before the law went into effect in March 2010, dependents were only required to be covered on a parent’s plan until age 18, or 23 if they were a full-time student.

With more young adults living at home in the recession, the new data accounted for multiple adults living in one home.

“The cost of living is affecting so many people today and often times the effects can go overlooked and unaddressed,” said Jamie Foreman, a student member of CSUN’s Habitat for Humanity. “It is becoming a larger issue for Americans and has a huge impact on poverty today.

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating the constraints that contribute to poverty housing  worldwide, according to their mission statement.

“There are many societal factors that influence the cost of living,” Foreman said. “But I think when people become more aware of the issue and not overlook its effects while advocating for change, we can begin to make a difference.”