The Price of Living in Paradise

http://blogging.la/archives/images/2007/12/99%20cents%202-thumb.jpgHow much do you spend a month on “clothing and services, education, reading, personal care, housekeeping supplies, and basic telephone service”? More than $206? Me too.

$206 is the amount the LA County Federation of Labor has allotted for “miscellaneous” expenses, meaning those listed above, for a single adult living “modestly” in LA. According to the LACFL a single adult needs to make $28,126 to live in LA. A two-parent household would need to make between $51,035 and $74,044, and when they say “modest,” they mean modest. Somehow that family has found an apartment to house 3 to 4 people for $1269 a month. You can chuckle at the rest of the figures on the brief .pdf document here. (Hat tip to LA Indymedia.)

Even given such seemingly impossible amounts, there are plenty of folks who aren’t making the “modest” living listed here. Find out who after the jump.

Zipskinny is a nifty site that shows demographic census data for any given zipcode. (Thanks to my Minnesota pals After School Snack for the link.) Among other cool features, the site allows you to compare data about different zipcodes side by side. The charts below compare six different LA zips chosen not so randomly. (Zip information courtesy of the LA County’s CEO’s office.)

The first chart compares income by zipcode:

http://blogging.la/archives/images/2007/12/Zipcode%20income-thumb.jpg

And the second compares race in the same six zipcodes:

Zipcode%20race.jpg

Even to a seasoned cynical person, it’s perhaps startling (and certainly depressing) how much income and race are correlated. Whiter neighborhoods are richer neighborhoods. I realize this isn’t exactly a news flash, but playing around with zipskinny, it comes statistically clear in a way that is almost breathtaking.

The zipcodes are as follows:
90002 = Watts,
90007 = South Central,
90024 = Westwood,
90210 = Do I need to even say it?,
90222 = Compton,
91436 = Encino.

I’ll admit I’m a 91436 denizen, though not statistically mean in terms of income or marital status (mean in other ways though). When I first looked up my zipcode and saw the ethnic breakdown, it was damn embarrassing. It’s a wonder I don’t go blind from the glare walking around here–87% white indeed.

What about your neighborhood? Are y’all living modestly or well? What’s the skinny on your zip?

(Omar Omar‘s photo of 6th and Fairfax used under a Creative Commons license.)

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6 Replies to “The Price of Living in Paradise”

  1. Interesting and thanks for the link to zipskinny.

    I’m in 91016. Their stats for us are interesting. What it doesn’t reflect is that zip belongs to Monrovia proper and the unincorporated sections south of the freeway that belong to LA County.

    Monrovia is divided into 3 sections and the division is hard and fast. South of Huntington or the 210 is one line of demarcation. Most of our violent crime is down there, some view it as the no mans land. The next is Foothill Blvd with the area south seen as the buffer and north as the “rich folks”. (To get to the “rich folks you have to go way up into the hills, but that is just the perception).

    The three sadly have little interaction other than to trim your trees,mow your lawn or buy your drugs. The income and quality of life in each of those areas is greatly skewed and those reports don’t show that at all.

    What got my attention is that I didn’t realize how white we were. I based my observations on where my kids go to school and we are the minority (I think only once was there ever someone else besides my kid of Eastern European origin). The difference of % white in the general population vs % white the schools is startling.

    I know in my own neighborhood the vast majority take their kids to private schools. This white flight out of the public schools is probably why our schools are facing budget cuts due to declining enrollment. The worrisome part is that those kids are not getting the benefits of getting to know so many different people.

    There you go, my take on the data. What is yours?

  2. We’re a single income family. We make, um, more than the single person listing, but way less than the single income family listing. We do only have one child so far, but we pay a thousand bucks a month for a one bedroom in a cheap neighborhood. Not including utilities. On the other hand, there is no way we pay $400 a month in transportation. My husband needs $5 in gas every week and a $3 can of oil about once a month. Yay, Vespa! I fill up the car once or twice a month at $30 a pop. I should get oil changes more frequently. Every so often I drop $1.25 on the bus to go to the museum. We spend around $200-300 per month on food, and that includes household items like dish soap. Our internet/phone costs around $50 a month.

    In theory we should have extra money, or at least come out even, but they fail to account for the crushing debt most people are in — or any debt at all, which is ridiculous. We have relatively low debt, but we can’t make any headway on it at all. And my husband has a great job with a good hourly wage!

    I checked out Zipskinny and we have a higher income than HALF our neighbors! Probably more than half, since we are at the top end of our category. I don’t know how they are surviving. I’m guessing dual incomes and less credit card debt.

  3. Westwood would be right up there with Encino if it weren’t for those 18% of students making less than 10K! The median makes it out to be an affordable place to live, when its pretty hard to live right (or right below) in the middle.

  4. I make under the recommendation for a single person household. Very fun.

    I commute by bike, so I can’t imagine how I would survive with a car.

    (90057 here. Go Westlake!)

  5. But is 90210 really all Anglo? Not quite–what about all the Persians, the Jews and the Persian Jews. Rather than reflect racial definitions, why not try educational status? San Marino is 33% grad. or professional degrees, 28.1% household income of $200,000 or more and 47.6% Asian. What can this mean?
    And as for your kids not getting to know anyone of a different race/background, don’t panic. It’s LA, and no one lives in the vacuum of their zip code.

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