Descriptive Title: Jobs paying wages greater than or equal to the self-sufficiency wage

Geographic Unit of Analysis: County and Metropolitan Division


Occupational Title

Mean Hourly Wage

Mean Annual Wage

May 2010 Employment Estimates*

% of Total in Metro Division*

Total all occupations





Food Preparation and Serving-Related  





Self-Sufficiency Standard for 1 Adult, no children





Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance  





Personal Care and Service





Healthcare Support










Transportation and Material Moving





Farming, Fishing, and Forestry





Office and Administrative Support





Sales and Related





Protective Service





Community and Social Services





Installation, Maintenance, and Repair





Self-Sufficiency Standard for 1 Adult, 1 Preschooler





Education, Training, and Library





Construction and Extraction





Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media





Life, Physical, and Social Science





Combined Self-Sufficiency Wages for 2 Adults, 1 Preschooler and 1 School-Age Child





Architecture and Engineering





Business and Financial Operations





Healthcare Practitioners and Technical





Computer and Mathematical















Data from the 2010 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey.  Wages have been updated to the first quarter of 2011 by applying the US Department of Labor's Employment Cost Index to the 2010 wages.  Occupations are classified using the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes. 

* These estimates are for the San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City Metropolitan Division, which includes estimates from San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties. 

Why Is This An Indicator Of Health and Sustainability?

Income is one of the strongest and most consistent predictors of health and disease in the public health research literature. Nationally, individuals with average family incomes of $15-20,000 are three times more likely to die prematurely as those with family incomes greater than $70,000.a Low income is also a risk factor for low birth weight babies, for suffering injuries or violence, for getting most cancers, and for getting most chronic conditions. The relationship between income and health is mediated though nutrition, employment conditions, parenting resources, leisure and recreation, housing adequacy, and neighborhood environmental quality, community violence, and stress.b,c,d,e,f

Interpretation and Geographic Equity Analysis

According to the Insight Center for Community Economic development, the 2011 San Francisco self-sufficiency standard wage was $14.34 per hour for an adult, $29.87 for an adult with an infant, $29.46 for an adult with a preschooler, $34.73 for an adult with a preschooler and one school age child, $55.68 for an adult with an infant, a preschooler and a school age child, $16.05 per adult for two adults and an infant, and $21.66 per adult for two adults with an infant and a preschooler. For additional calculations, visit:

Although San Francisco has one of the highest minimum wages in the nation ($10.24/hr. as of January 1, 2012), it is still not a sufficient wage according to the self-sufficiency wage standard. The self-sufficiency standard is a measure of the amount of income needed for 70 different family types to adequately meet basic needs in a specific county without public or private assistance. The self-sufficiency standard measures the actual cost of living on a county-by-county basis, including costs of transportation, taxes, child care, housing, food, and health care.

The table and chart above illustrate that the greatest number of current and projected job openings in the San Francisco metro region are in occupations that pay less than a self-sufficiency wage for an adult with any children.   

The table illustrates the mean hourly and annual wages and the total number of people as of May 2010 employed by major occupational category for the San Francisco metro region, which includes San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties.  Estimates for San Francisco alone were not available.  The table also highlights what percentage of the total metro workforce each occupation represents. 

As of May 2010, the three major occupational categories employing the largest number of people in San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties were office and administrative support occupations; sales and related occupations and food preparation and serving occupations. 

The bar graph above illustrates the twenty individual occupations with the largest number of projected job openings in the San Francisco metro region between 2008 and 2018 and the current wages associated with each occupation.  Bars in red provide wages less than the San Francisco self-sufficiency wage for one adult ($14.34/hr).  Bars in yellow provide wages between $14.34 and $29.87/hr, which is a wage sufficient for one adult with one infant.  And green bars indicate wages greater than $29.87. 

The bar graph illustrates that 13 of the 20 fastest growing occupations offer wages that are insufficient for self-sufficiency, and only four of the 18 fastest growing occupations offer wages that would be sufficient for an adult with dependents.  The three specific occupations with the largest project number of job openings for 2018, personal and home care aides; waiters and waitresses; and retail salespersons,  all pay less than $12 per hour, below the self-sufficiency standard for a single adult and less than half the wages needed for an adult with one or more children.

Over the past fifty years, the U.S., including San Francisco, has experienced a restructuring of its economy, with a decline in the manufacturing sector and a growth in retail and service sectors. California's economy is fostering far more growth among high- and low-wage jobs compared to middle-income jobs ( Such changes have implications for wages earned, wage inequality, levels of education necessary to get jobs, and levels of unionization among workers. 

According to a report titled "Understanding Low-Wage Work in the United States" published by Inclusion and the Center for Economic Policy and Research, "Over 40 million jobs in the United States, about one in three, pay low wages. Unlike good jobs, most low-wage jobs do not offer employment benefits such as health insurance or retirement accounts, tend to have inflexible or unpredictable scheduling requirements, and provide little opportunity for career advancement. Globalization, automation, outsourcing, and other economic forces have all contributed to a changing domestic labor market. All too often low-wage jobs are replacing jobs that have traditionally supported a broad middle class." Available at:


The table was developed using occupational estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s 2010 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey by major Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code – those ending in XX-000 to provide an overview of all major occupational categories.   The geography selected was the San Francisco – San Mateo- Redwood City Metropolitan Division, which represents Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties.

The bar graph was developed using the occupational projection estimates from the California Employment Development Department’s Labor Market Information.   Due to space constraints, we showed only the top 20 of the 50 occupations listed with the most projected job openings by 2018.

The self-sufficiency standard is an alternative to the Federal Poverty Line for measuring income adequacy. Unlike the Federal Poverty Line, the self-sufficiency standard demonstrates how much income is needed for a family of a certain composition in a given place to adequately meet its minimal basic needs. In contrast, the Federal Poverty Line is based on the cost of a single item: food. It does not vary by the local cost of living, and it relies on the outdated assumption that food represents one-third of a family's budget. For a family of four—whether in a high cost market like San Francisco, CA or a more affordable market like Baton Rouge, LA—the 2012 poverty line is $23,050 in annual household earnings.  For details on the methodology for creating the county-specific self-sufficiency estimates, please visit:


Although San Francisco’s minimum wage is one of the highest in the nation at $10.24 per hour and substantially higher than the state ($8.00) or national ($7.25) minimum wage, the average cost of living in the San Francisco metropolitan region is also higher than other cities.  For example, the average San Francisco rental housing costs are up to double the costs in other metro regions.  The costs of transportation, food, energy, and childcare also tend to be higher than other metro regions.

Although the self-sufficiency standard accounts for variation in the costs of living by county and by family type, it does not address differential access to public or private assistance.  Individuals who have independent wealth or financial support from families or friends may be better able to weather financial turmoil than those without that additional support.  Financially secure homeowners may be able to borrow money from the equity in their homes to help pay high medical bills, car accidents, college tuition, or other large financial burdens; whereas homeowners facing mortgage foreclosures may have additional financial burdens not accounted for in the self-sufficiency standard.  Individuals with good medical insurance coverage may be less impacted by health emergencies than those with no or poor coverage.  Financial stability and access to a self-sufficiency wage are impacted by many different factors including educational attainment, race/ethnicity, class, languages spoken, access to financial institutions, job training, financial literacy, inter-generational wealth or poverty, etc.

The self-sufficiency standard addresses costs of living by family size for those family members living with the income-earner.  However, it does not account for providing financial support to other family members who don’t live in the home but may be dependent upon the income earner, for example family abroad that receive remittances.  As illustrated in Indicator D.12, (, roughly one of every five households in San Francisco have at least one person under the age of 18.  Certain neighborhoods have much higher numbers of families with children than other neighborhoods, which impact the average self-sufficiency wages needed for those households. 

The mean wages stated above for various occupations represent the average wage for all people employed in that occupation in the San Francisco metro region.  Therefore a significant number of individuals employed in those occupations earn less than or equal to that wage amount.   Some low-wage occupations are more likely to experience wage theft, or non-payment of wages earned (see than other occupations, which further limits the workers’ ability to obtain a self-sufficiency wage.

Finally, the occupational projections developed for 2008 occurred prior to the major economic recessions of 2008-2010.  Certain occupations, including those in the construction/buildings and trades and services industries, were particularly impacted by the recession and may have resulted in changes to occupational projections moving forward.  Significant layoffs resulting in major unemployment and increased competition for jobs may further impact occupational projections for the coming decade.

Data Source

Data on median wages and occupations are from the 2010 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey.  The wages have all been updated to the first quarter of 2011 by applying the US Department of Labor's Employment Cost Index to the 2010 wages.  Occupations are classified using the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes.  For details of the methodology, see the Overview of the OES Survey at

Self-sufficiency standard obtained from Insight Center for Community Economic Development. Available at:

Data on occupations with the most projected job openings (2008-2018) are from the California Employment Development Department, Labor Market Info.  Available at:                                                       

Chart and table recreated by San Francisco Department of Public Health, Environmental Health Section.

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