New Census figures released today show rising income inequality across the state and millions of California residents who are struggling to get by on extremely low incomes, while higher-income households experienced more income growth. Even as the latest figures also show there is a decline in the official poverty rate in California, these findings underscore the need for policymakers to ensure that the benefits of California’s strong economy and recent economic growth are shared among all Californians.
Approximately 7.1 million Californians lived in poverty each year from 2016 to 2018 – more than 1 in 6 state residents (18.2%) – according to new Census data released this morning based on the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM). The high cost of living in many parts of California is a key reason for California’s high SPM poverty rate, underscoring the continuing need for policies that address the state’s affordability challenges. High living costs are particularly problematic when they rise faster than incomes. This presents a challenge in California because inflation-adjusted wages in recent decades have grown only for the highest-paid workers, while wages for mid-wage and low-wage workers have remained largely flat.
This “Guide to Understanding Poverty Measures Used to Assess Economic Well-Being in California,” is designed to help policy stakeholders understand the details of and differences between the three major measures of poverty available for California — the official poverty measure, the Supplemental Poverty Measure, and the California Poverty Measure — and provides guidance on when each measure is most appropriate to use to understand the poverty Californians experience.
It’s hard work to be able to afford to live, raise a family, and eventually retire in California, especially for workers with low or moderate incomes. While the plight of these workers has never been easy — and workers who are black, Latinx, or women experience some of the greatest economic disadvantages and discrimination in the workplace — research shows that wages and benefits have significantly eroded for many Californians in recent decades. Many workers are being paid little more today than workers were in 1979 even as worker productivity has risen. » Read more about: California’s Workers Are Increasingly Locked Out of the State’s Prosperity »
Sara Kimberlin, senior policy analyst with the California Budget and Policy Center, says there’s already a mismatch between the federal poverty line and what California families need to make to survive. » Read more about: Redefining Who Is In Poverty Could Bump Thousands From Medi-Cal »