06/26/2022

Poverty in California is getting better—except where it isn’t

California still has the nation’s highest poverty rate when you take into account the state’s high cost of living. But the number of people living in poverty here has dropped since the beginning of the decade.

There were nearly 600,000 fewer impoverished Californians in 2016 than in 2011, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.

That’s unequivocally positive. The state’s economic recovery took a long time to touch lower-income households, but a booming labor market and long overdue wage gains—as well as a strong safety net that kept things from getting worse—have finally benefited people living near the bottom of the income scale.

. . .That’s the good news. But the decline in California’s overall poverty rate masks considerable geographic differences within the state. Some major swaths of California haven’t seen any decline in poverty at all.

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