COLORADO SPRINGS, CO — El Paso County is one of the least expensive large metropolis areas to live in Colorado, according to the Economic Policy Institute. The organization recently released its 2018 family budget calculator that estimates how costly it is to live in each of America’s 3,142 counties and 611 metro areas.
The group estimates a family of two adults and two children in El Paso County would need to earn a combined $83,583 per year — or $6,965 a month — to live comfortably.
Here’s how the group breaks down that number:
Screenshot of Economic Policy Institute’s 2018 family expenses calculator in El Paso County.
According to the U.S Census, the median household income in the El Paso County in 2016 was $55,322.
But, compared to Boulder, that might seem like a bargain.
To live in the Boulder area, that same family would need to earn a combined $ $101,584 per year, or $8,465 every month, to "attain a modest yet adequate standard of living," the organization said.
The family budget calculator accounts for geographic differences in cost of living, but does not include many expenses associated with a middle-class lifestyle, including student loan payments or saving for college or retirement.
"Our Family Budget Calculator goes beyond traditional measures like the poverty line to paint a detailed picture of what families need to get by," EPI Senior Economist Elise Gould said in a release. "The latest update provides even greater detail on how costs vary throughout the country. It is above all else a tool for policymakers to advocate for ways to raise wages and make their communities more affordable."
Perhaps unsurprisingly, San Francisco ranked first in the nation as the most expensive metro area with a basic budget of $148,439 a year for a two-parent, two-child household. On the flipside, that same household would only need to earn $58,906 to live comfortably in Brownsville, Texas, the least expensive metro area in the country.
The group noted that many low-wage workers don’t make enough money to adequately provide for their family’s basic needs. Even after adjusting for higher state and city minimum wages, the group said, there is "nowhere in the country" where a minimum-wage worker would earns enough.
"It’s clear from our analysis that, even in less-expensive areas, many families will struggle to meet their basic needs," said research assistant Zane Mokhiber. "The good news is we have many different ways to remedy this, from a higher minimum wage to ambitious child care reform. Policymakers should draw on a range of tools to help people meet the needs laid out in the Family Budget Calculator."
Click here to go to to the calculator. You can change the number of adults and children to see exactly what your household needs to earn to live comfortably in your county.
Patch reporter Dan Hampton contributed to this report
Photo credit: David McNew/Getty Images