Fact Sheet

Many Communities Across California Still Face Significant Economic Challenges

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

People in many communities across the state are not sharing in California’s recent economic gains. Statewide, nearly 6 million people (15.3 percent), including almost 2 million children (21.2 percent), lived in poverty in 2015, based on the US Census Bureau’s official poverty line, which is about $19,000 in annual income for a family of three. Among California’s counties, there are stark differences in people’s economic well-being. The latest Census figures show that:

  • The share of people struggling to make ends meet varies widely throughout the state. The official 2015 poverty rates ranged from a low of 7.1 percent to a high of 27.6 percent, while the 2015 child poverty rates ranged from a low of 7.4 percent to a high of 38.5 percent. (See tables in this companion Fact Sheet for poverty rates and child poverty rates in each county).
  • In 11 counties, more than 1 in 5 people lived in poverty in 2015 (see Map 1, below). This includes four counties — Fresno, Imperial, Merced, and Tulare — where more than one-quarter of all residents lived in poverty. Such high poverty rates are particularly striking given that 2015 marked the sixth year of recovery from the Great Recession, which ended nationally in 2009.
  • In 21 counties, more than 1 in 5 children lived in poverty in 2015 (see Map 2, below). This includes five counties — Fresno, Madera, Merced, Tulare, and Yuba — where more than one-third of all children lived in poverty and another eight counties where between one-quarter and one-third of all children lived in poverty.

Map 1

Map 2