Why is This Important?
Household income can impact access to health care, good nutrition, and quality housing. High-income households often have access to better schools and live in safer neighborhoods, and children of high-income households are more likely to complete college. Low-income households may have difficulty meeting basic needs, particularly in areas with very high cost of living. Children are especially vulnerable to poverty, as poor nutrition can stunt physical growth and cognitive development.
What is a Sustainable State?
A sustainable state is one where all community members share in the benefits of economic development and income growth and the number of households living in poverty continues to decline over time.
How Are We Doing?
· The median household income in San Mateo County in 2009 was $85,213, well above the California state median household income of $58,931. Since 2004, median household income in the county has increased about 24 percent; the Consumer Price Index has increased 12.7 percent over that same time period.
· The Gini coefficient (or Gini index), a measure of income inequality, is widely used internationally to compare countries and their wealth distributions. The closer to 100 a Gini index is, the more unequal the income distribution; closer to 0 the more equal distribution.
· SSMC calculated a Gini index for San Mateo County in 2009 of between 44 and 46. This compares very closely with the Gini index of the United States as a whole (45). In 2005 the European Union (EU) had a Gini coefficient of 31 and Canada, 33. The United States’ income distribution is significantly more unequal than countries with comparable economies.
· In 2009, 7.7 percent of San Mateo County residents lived below the Federal Poverty Level ($18,310 for a family of three). The number of households under the poverty line increased in 2009 for the first time in five years.
· Rates of poverty vary based on education. In 2009, 14.6 percent of county adults without high school degrees lived below the poverty line; only 2.9 percent of adult residents with college degrees had similar incomes.
· Because of San Mateo County’s high cost of living, comparisons with the federal poverty threshold can be misleading. In 2010, the same family of three used for calculating the Federal Poverty Level (mother, infant, and school age child) needed annual gross household income of $83,283 to be “self-sufficient.” The self-suficiency budget includes monthly rent ($1,713), child care ($1,984) and food and other expenses. Of note, approximately 49 percent of households in the county learn below this self-sufficiency level.