More than 7 Million Californians Can’t Afford Basic Needs, New Census Figures Show

SACRAMENTO, CA  – Approximately 7.1 million Californians live in poverty and cannot afford to pay for basics, such as food and housing, according to a new analysis by the California Budget & Policy Center that is based on data released today from the US Census Bureau.

The sate’s poverty rate remains high with 1 in 6 Californians struggling to make ends meet, according to the Supplemental Poverty Measure from the Census Bureau. The Supplemental Poverty Measure accounts for the cost of living as well as for the various resources a family may use to cover basic expenses, and may include noncash benefits like tax credits and food assistance.

California’s poverty rate of 18.2% remains among the highest of all 50 states. The Budget Center’s analysis notes that one of the largest barriers low- and moderate-income families face is the state’s high cost of housing, and many Californians are spending more than half of their limited incomes on housing, leaving little money for food, child care or other basic needs.

Today’s Census Bureau findings also build off a recent Budget Center report that showed decades of wage stagnation and pay disparities for low- and mid-wage California workers means people cannot get ahead and thrive in their communities.

Policymakers have the opportunity to break down barriers that keep Californians from sharing in the state’s prosperity. Policy solutions to build upon include: expanding the CalEITC – a refundable state tax credit targeted to low-earning workers – and adding a new Young Child Tax Credit for families with the youngest children; increasing the support available to families with children through CalWORKs, California’s welfare to work program; increasing access to affordable child care and health insurance; and pursuing multiple strategies to address housing affordability.

Budget Center experts available to speak with media today:

  • Sara Kimberlin, Senior Policy Analyst
  • Esi Hutchful, Policy Analyst
  • Scott Graves, Director of Research

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The California Budget & Policy Center engages in independent fiscal and policy analysis and public education with the goal of improving public policies affecting the economic and social well-being of Californians with low and middle incomes. Support for the Budget Center comes from foundation grants, subscriptions, and individual contributions.