Kern County data

Kern County data from the "Making Ends Meet: How Much does It Cost to Support a Family in California."

Courtesy of calbudgetcenter.org

It’s no surprise to learn that the cost to live in Kern County is lower than many other places in California.

But a recent study by the non-partisan California Budget and Policy Center offers a twist on what locals already know about the place they live.

The study looked at the cost to support a family in California, breaking out data about each of the state’s counties.

Kern County, according to the analysis by the group, came in with the second lowest cost to support a family behind Modoc County.

It costs $57,411 to support a family with two working parents.

The group also broke down the costs by major cost factors including housing and utilities, food, child care, health care and transportation.

In Kern County, the cost of health care and child care were above the state average.

Sara Kimberlin, Senior Policy Analyst at the California Budget and Policy Center, said that’s not surprising given Kern County’s location and economic base.

In rural areas of the state those other basic needs can actually be more expensive than the state average.

Take health care, for instance. In more low-income, rural areas like Kern County there are fewer health care providers.

“There is more competition and the costs are higher,” Kimberlin said.

There is good news in the study, she said.

“A place like Kern County is relatively better off than other parts of the state,” Kimberlin said.

But people in Kern County bring in less money than other parts of the state and that can make it hard for people living here to make even the $57,411 annual budget.

A family living on minimum wage still can’t make enough to buy into the average family’s life, she said.

And that’s one of the concerns the study, titled “Making Ends Meet: How Much Does It Cost to Support a Family in California,” points out.

The hope, Kimberlin said, is that policy makers and leaders will be able to use the data to help draft policies that will improve the lot of all families in the state.

The goal, she said, is “to highlight what is the real cost of living in all areas of California.”

James Burger can be reached at 661‑395-7415. Follow him on Twitter: @KernQuirks.

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