Cost of Living Jumps for Johnson County

SAVE THE DATE! -- UCS Human Service Summit

Mark your calendars now for Wednesday, June 13, 8:30 - Noon at the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center.
The 2018 UCS Human Service Summit will focus on health equity in Johnson County. This community conversation will explore how social, economic, and environmental factors impact the health and well-being of Johnson County residents, and will include a discussion about the role all sectors can play to improve health outcomes and build a healthy community.

Cost of Living Jumps for Johnson County and Metro Area Residents, 2014-2017

Earlier this month we saw numerous news stories highlighting the double-digit increase in property valuations for many Johnson County residents. These stories discussed the impact of increased costs for those on fixed incomes, and the challenge of finding affordable housing for first-time homebuyers.
The rising cost of housing affects the overall cost of living in Johnson County, which has grown by double digits across all household sizes in just the past four years, according to new data from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) recently released update to the Family Budget Calculator measures the income a family needs to attain a modest yet adequate standard of living.  Johnson County families are faced every day with choices about how to spend their household income. These choices are influenced by the cost of basic needs, such as housing, child care, food, and health care. Families with limited income must figure out how to meet these essential needs with inadequate resources. For example, a low-income single parent with two children earns less than 56% of what it costs to live in Johnson County; if that family is in poverty, they earn less than 28% of what it takes to meet the cost of living.

Regardless of household size, household income must be at least $16.00 per hour (full-time, year-round) to regularly sustain a household in Johnson County. Households with children need to earn the equivalent of at least $28.00 per hour to afford necessities. Employment is a key pathway to economic opportunity, but those jobs must pay adequate wages to meet the cost of living.

In Johnson County, 30% of jobs pay less than $15 an hour, which is equivalent to $31,200 for full-time year-round work and does not cover the cost of living even for a single adult. Employment projections for the area suggest that the largest employment growth through 2022 will be predominantly low-wage occupations, such as sales clerk, restaurant worker, cashier, and personal care aide. Supporting a family and getting a secure foothold in life can be challenging when job opportunities are concentrated in low wage jobs.
Johnson County has a higher cost of living than other communities in the Kansas City metro area.

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 1-year estimates 2016; Economic Policy Institute, 2014 and 2017; Mid-America Regional Council, Jobs EQ Q3 2017; U.S. Dept. of HHS, 2017

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