Incomes Grew and the Official Poverty Rate Dropped in California in 2017, But Millions Still Struggle With Extremely Low Incomes

New Census figures released today show promising gains in income and employment for Californians, yet also show that millions of California residents are still struggling to get by on extremely low incomes. These data underscore the need for policymakers to ensure that the economy’s recent gains are shared among all Californians.

The latest Census figures indicate that median household income in California grew to $71,805 in 2017, an increase of 3.8% over the prior year after adjusting for inflation. Median family income and median earnings for all workers also increased compared to inflation-adjusted income and earnings in 2016, and a larger share of Californians were employed. These positive economic gains are encouraging, but must be considered within the context of the slow speed overall with which the California economy has recovered from the Great Recession. Compared to 2007, when California incomes peaked before the Great Recession, median household income has only increased by 1.1% after adjusting for inflation. This modest real change in the incomes of typical households, this far into the economic recovery, helps explain why many Californians report that they do not feel economically secure, despite the state’s improving job market.

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