SLO residents have high salaries but literally no extra spending money, study finds

What are SLO County’s highest paid jobs?

Test your local job knowledge and find out which professions pay the most in San Luis Obispo County.
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Test your local job knowledge and find out which professions pay the most in San Luis Obispo County.

Here’s some upsetting math for you: If you subtract taxes and basic expenses from the county’s average salary, a typical San Luis Obispo County resident will be left with literally no leftover cash, according to a recent study.

In fact, they end up with a negative amount.

A discretionary spending study done by Trove Technologies, Inc., using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to examine salaries and expenses for cities across the country, compiled a list of the worst metropolitan areas when it comes to discretionary income (extra money to spend on things beyond the necessities).

For 2016, the average SLO County resident earned $50,255 — a relatively high salary compared to other metro areas around the nation — but after subtracting $12,001 for taxes and $38,535 for basic expenses, that person would actually be left with a deficit of $281.

“San Luis Obispo is completely unaffordable for many workers in the lower and middle wage brackets,” Trove cofounder Michael Pao said. “Our research finds that wages beat the national average by 11 percent but expenses come in at 15 percent higher than other cities.”

-$281Discretionary income for the average San Luis Obispo County resident, after expenses and taxes

Unsurprisingly, the study found the largest chunk of residents’ paychecks goes to housing — roughly $17,334 a year.

Because of this, the study categorized SLO County as “poor.”

Almost the entirety of the state was categorized as poor under this methodology, except for El Centro, which narrowly made it into the next classification bracket, fair.

slo expensive
Trove Technologies, Inc.

How much extra money people had varied throughout the state:

The average Californian was left with $53 in discretionary income, while a San Diego resident had negative $511 in their bank accounts after taxes and expenses. In the Bay Area, residents were estimated to have about $605 in discretionary income, but a few miles away in Santa Clara County, residents could have more than four times that with $2,955.

Closer to home, the Santa Barbara metro area (which includes Santa Maria) averaged $1,305 in discretionary income, Bakersfield had $1,972 and Fresno $681.

The study also examined specific jobs to determine which would leave workers with the most discretionary income.

In SLO County, that job is a landscape architect: Assuming an average salary of $106,540, taxes of $36,209 and basic expenses of $38,535, a SLO County landscape architect could actually end up with more than $31,000 in discretionary income a year. (Other high-performing jobs in this category included supervisors of protective service workers, training and development specialists, mental health social workers and cardiovascular technicians.)

The worst job in the county for extra spending money is medical equipment repairers, whose average salary of $32,920 is completely eaten up by basic expenses and taxes, leaving them with a deficit of $12,167.

Trove is a technology company that helps customers pack, move and store personal and household items. For more information on the study, visit https://www.mytrove.com/ca/san-luis-obispo/dir/all-occupations.

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie

These 10 jobs are the fastest-growing professions in San Luis Obispo County, according to data from the California Employment Development Department.

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