County residents struggle to qualify for benefits

San Mateo, CA – Making nearly $150,000 per year is a substantial household income in most of the country, but in San Mateo County, it means you’re struggling to make ends meet, according to a recent MarketWatch report.

The data shows the county has one of the highest salaries that are still considered low income, tied with Marin County and San Francisco. The list underscores how living in an economically vibrant region allows for upward mobility, while also making it more difficult to qualify for state and federally-funded benefits, which gauge a household’s need based on much lower incomes.

Peninsula Family Service CEO Heather Cleary said the regional differences are particularly evident when looking at the organization’s means-tested early learning program.

“We really see that the poverty line that’s set and the benefit levels, especially low-income levels, are really challenging for our community. There’s a lot of people who need service that aren’t able to get it because they make too much money, and that’s a big challenge,” Cleary said.

That can leave families with a tough choice between accepting a modest raise and promotion or losing a substantial benefit, such as child care or even health insurance.


“People are still living in poverty but they're getting wages that are much higher than the rest of the country,” Cleary said. 

Full text of the Daily Journal article can be found here.