Data paints tough S.F. picture

The median income earned by San Francisco residents is inadequate to buy a home, although many people decide to stay here despite the high cost of living, according to expertsand data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The 2005 American Survey data released this week shows the average household income in San Francisco is $57,496.

The average salary of professional people living in The City is $70,000, said John Grubb, a spokesman for the Bay Area Council, a public-policy advocacy organization for the Bay Area.

Even that professional salary doesn’t earn enough to buy a $500,000 home, because an income of $100,000 is needed, said Steve Levy, director of the Palo-Alto based Center for the Continuing Study of the California Economy.

“Very few households that don’t already own a house are able to afford new houses,” Levy said. “It’s a common problem for people who don’t already own a home.”

San Francisco residents may stay in The City due to its weather, political climate and culture, but they’re not saving money like residents of other cities, Grubb said.

In a study by the Bay Area Council, residents of Charlotte, N.C., and Seattle were compared with San Francisco professionals earning $70,000. At the end of the year, a Seattle salary-earner had saved $19,000 and a Charlotte resident had $22,000 socked away. The San Franciscan had no money saved up, Grubb said.

On average, that same San Francisco resident spends $33,000 a year on housing, be it in rent or for paying a mortgage. African-American and Asian households in The City fall below the median income while whites earn more, according to the Census Bureau survey. An African-American household headed by one person earns $26,102, while the Asian equivalent pulls in $50,400. For whites, the median income of $67,520 is more than double the figure for African-Americans.

Nationwide, the trend is the same, with black households earning less than Asians or whites, according the data released this week.

The Census Bureau reports that 37 million or 12.6 percent of the American population lives in poverty. In San Francisco, 87,823 or 12.2 percent of residents lived in poverty last year, the data shows.

mcarroll@examiner.com

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