County’s cost of living up 66% in 10 years

This chart shows changes in the Self-Sufficiency Standard for Washington state by year for four counties, including Pacific. This is an estimate of what it costs per year for a family of two adults, one preschooler and one school-age child.

LONG BEACH — The cost of getting by just keeps going up. A Pacific County family of four must bring in about $57,000 annually to pay for basic housing, food, transportation and health and child care — an increase of 66 percent or $22,526 since 2006, based on a new report from the University of Washington.

The county’s escalating cost of living may not be a surprise. Across the state, the amount of money required to make ends meet for two adults, a preschooler and a school-age child has risen, according to the Self-Sufficiency Standard for Washington State 2017. When compared to 2001, the first year the Self-Sufficiency Standard was calculated, costs for that same family of four have increased an average of 59 percent statewide. However, there is considerable variation by county, ranging from 41 percent to 86 percent.

In percentage terms, Pacific County’s cost of living has increased the most of any county on the state’s outer coast. In our vicinity, only Wahkiakum has seen a sharper cost spike in basic essentials for a family of four.

The county-by-county report identifies the amount of income needed to support families of various sizes without additional help from the government, community or other personal resources.

In Asotin County, where the self-sufficiency bar is lowest, the study finds that a family of four needs an annual income of $49,000. Housing costs roughly $725 a month; less than half what that family might pay for lower-end housing in King County, the most expensive in the state. In Pacific County, researchers figured low-end family housing can be found for $839 a month.

In King County, it takes $75,000 annually to pay for basic housing, food, transportation and health and child care — an increase of 62 percent since 2006, according to the UW report. In Pacific County, the same package of basic essentials costs $56,815 — a comparative bargain, but up from $34,297 in 2001.

The county’s 2016 self-sufficiency income was 122 percent of what two adults could make at minimum-wage jobs and 108 percent of the county’s actual median income for a couple.

Living by themselves, an adult in Pacific County could just get by with a full-time wage of $9.18 an hour, based on an assumption they can find housing at a cost of $631 a month, according to the report. That amounts to an annual income of $19,378.

There was no significant slowing of cost increases during the Great Recession or the recovery after 2009.

Based on reporting by University of Washington News.

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