In order to develop effective public policy that supports working families – policymakers, advocates, and service providers need an accurate measurement of what it takes to make ends meet in today’s economy. The Family Economic Self- Sufficiency Standard (Self-Sufficiency Standard) for California provides that benchmark. The Self-Sufficiency Standard calculates the income needed by working families to meet their basic needs in every county in California and for 156 family types. The Self- Sufficiency Standard provides county-specific costs for housing, food, and health care, as well as costs associated with work including transportation, child care, and taxes. The Self-Sufficiency Standard is a more accurate calculation of income adequacy than other measures of economic well-being, such as the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).
How much is enough in Santa Clara? The graph below shows that the FPL, which is commonly used to determine eligibility for public support programs, is not enough. Neither is the maximum CalWORKs with CalFresh benefit, which is even less than the FPL. And in fact, to meet the most basic expenses for a family of three in Santa Clara County, you would need to work more than four full-time minimum wage jobs!