Loading...
Economy

California Is America's Poorest State

Comments (0)

By

Thu, Nov 7, 2013 at 1:45 PM
click to enlarge COREY MILLER /  LA WEEKLY FLICKR POOL

California is becoming such a surreal place. Our billionaire population is booming. L.A. county has the most expensive homes in America. You can barely touch real estate these days without an all-cash offer.

See also: Priciest Homes in U.S. Are Right Here in L.A. County.

And yet the U.S. Census Bureau has determined, under its "supplemental poverty measure," that California is the poorest state in America. For the second year in a row:

The latest Census figures say 23.8 percent of us are living in poverty, or that almost one in four Californians is poor. Unofficially.

Without the adjustments made under the supplemental poverty measure, our rate would be 16.5 percent. And that's the official number.

The federal government hasn't adopted the supplemental way of doing things ... yet. This week's report takes into account a little thing we like to call reality.

In other words, this alternative way of crunching the numbers takes into account the cost of living, including our astronomical rents and housing prices, taxes, and benefits.

Jonathan Buttle, a California Department of Finance research program specialist, tells L.A. Weekly that housing is one of the main factors that puts more of us in poverty:

click to enlarge KEVIN DEAN / LA WEEKLY FLICKR POOL
  • Kevin Dean / LA Weekly Flickr pool

One of the major adjustments is they use the geographic adjustment based on an average apartment. They look at various localities in California and other states and apply that adjustment. That is definitely a major factor in why the California poverty rate is much higher under this measure.

With all that thrown in the mix, the Census Bureau says there are more like 8.9 million Californians living in poverty instead of the official number, 6.2 million. With a population of 38 million, that means that about one in four of us is officially in the poorhouse.

We beat out Washington, D.C.'s, poverty rate of 22.7 percent poverty rate under the supplemental calculation.

It doesn't mean we'll get more of our share of federal benefits, however, since the government has yet to use the "supplemental" way of doing things. "It's still considered experimental," says Buttle of the Department of Finance.

Remember that next time you're paying the rent. Your poverty is officially experimental.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.

Related Content

Related

Now Trending

Los Angeles Concert Tickets

Slideshows

  • 21st Annual Classic Cars "Cruise Night" in Glendale
    On Saturday, spectators of all ages were out in multitudes on a beautiful summer night in Glendale to celebrate the 21st annual Cruise Night. Brand Boulevard, one of the main streets through downtown Glendale, was closed to traffic and lined with over 250 classic, pre-1979 cars. There was plenty of food to be had and many of the businesses on Brand stayed open late for the festivities The evening ended with fireworks and a 50th anniversary concert from The Kingsmen, who performed their ultimate party hit, "Louie, Louie." All photos by Jared Cowan.
  • The World Cup Celebrated And Mourned By Angelenos
    The World Cup has taken Los Angeles by storm. With viewings beginning at 9 a.m., soccer fans have congregated at some of the best bars in the city including The Village Idiot, Goal, The Parlour on Melrose, Big Wang's and more. Whether they're cheering for their native country, favorite players or mourning the USA's loss, Angelenos have paid close attention to the Cup, showing that soccer is becoming more than a fad. All photos by Daniel Kohn.
  • La Brea Tar Pits "Pit 91" Re-Opening
    Starting June 28th, The Page Museum once again proudly unveils the museum's Observation Pit, which originally opened in 1952 but has spent most of the last half century closed. Now visitors can get an up-close look at Pit 91, which is currently under excavation. The La Brea Tar Pits, home of the Page Museum, is one of the world's most famous ice age fossil locations, known for range of fossils from saber-toothed cats and mammoths to microscopic plants, seeds and insects. The new "Excavator Tour" is free with museum admission if purchased online at tarpits.org . All photos by Nanette Gonzales.