Fact Sheet

Few California Communities Have Fully Made Up Ground Lost Due to the Great Recession

Endnotes are available in the PDF version of this Fact Sheet.

The share of Californians facing severe economic hardship remains higher than at the onset of the Great Recession, in 2007, in many communities throughout the state. Statewide, 15.3 percent of residents struggled to get by in 2015 — the most recent year for which data are available — based on the US Census Bureau’s official poverty measure. This was 2.9 percentage points higher than in 2007 (12.4 percent), when the state poverty rate fell to a recent low. In addition, 21.2 percent of California children lived in poverty in 2015 — 3.9 percentage points higher than in 2007 (17.3 percent). Specifically, the latest Census figures show that:

  • Poverty remained more widespread in 2015 than at the onset of the recession in 30 out of the 40 counties for which data are available (see Map 1, below). This is especially notable given that 2015 marked the sixth year since the end of the national recession. There was no statistically significant difference in poverty rates between 2007 and 2015 in the remaining 10 counties for which data are available.
  • Three counties stand out with severely higher poverty rates. In Kings, Madera, and Sutter counties the 2015 poverty rate was more than 8.0 percentage points higher than in 2007.
  • Another 11 counties have poverty rates that substantially exceed 2007 levels. These counties, which include both Inland Empire counties and several counties in the Central Valley, had 2015 poverty rates that were between 4.1 and 8.0 percentage points higher than in 2007.
  • In 16 counties, poverty rates modestly exceed 2007 levels. These counties had 2015 poverty rates that exceeded 2007 levels by up to 4.0 percentage points. Notably, these include counties, such as San Francisco and San Mateo, where the local job market has been booming for several years.

Also, child poverty rates in 19 counties are significantly higher than in 2007 (see Map 2, below). Specifically:

  • Six counties stand out with severely higher child poverty rates. In Kings, Madera, Merced, and Sutter counties the 2015 child poverty rate was more than 12.0 percentage points higher than in 2007, and in San Bernardino and Stanislaus counties the 2015 child poverty rate was between 8.1 and 12.0 percentage points higher than in 2007.
  • Another nine counties have child poverty rates that are substantially higher than in 2007. These counties, which include parts of the Central Valley, central coast, and southern California, had 2015 child poverty rates that were between 4.1 and 8.0 percentage points higher than in 2007.
  • In four counties, child poverty rates are modestly higher than in 2007. Los Angeles, San Diego, San Mateo, and Sonoma counties had 2015 child poverty rates up to 4.0 percentage points higher than in 2007.

Map 1

 

Map 2

 


The following tables provide the underlying data for 2007, 2012, and 2015 that this Fact Sheet is based on.