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Richard Rider

California poverty rate now highest in the nation — by FAR

RIDER COMMENT:  The story below has prompted me to add an unpleasant fact to my “California vs. the Other 49 States” fact sheet.  As is my policy, I had to drop another telling fact, trying to keep the piece to two printed pages.

The new fact is based on a more sophisticated measure of poverty, now used by the U.S. Census Bureau.  It’s called the “Supplemental Poverty Measure,” and better reflects the cost of living in a state or region.  The old poverty figure used the same dollar threshold regardless of where one resided.  This one adjusts for costs — first and foremost housing costs.

The result doesn’t work well for California. We’ve vaulted to the top spot — the WORST poverty rate in the nation.

And not by a small margin.  We are at 23.5%, compared with the national average of 16.1%.  The second worst state is Florida is at 19.5%.

Stated differently, California’s real poverty rate is 55.7% higher than the average for the other 49 states (not including CA).  And CA is 20.5% worse than its nearest challenger Florida.

The dropped fact? — The one about CA community colleges offering thousands of enrichment courses (including ballroom dancing and baking pastries) for little or (far more commonly) no student cost.


California Poverty Rate Highest In Nation Based On New Census Department Figures

By  Posted: 11/15/2012 11:06 am EST Updated: 11/16/2012 6:04 pm EST

California Poverty

California has a poverty rate of 23.5 percent, the highest of any state in the country, according to figures released this week by the United States Census Bureau.

The only other geographic region with an equivalent poverty rate is the District of Columbia, with 23.2 percent. The second most poverty-stricken state was Florida, at 19.5 percent.

The recognition of California’s shockingly high poverty rate comes as a part of a shift in the way the Census Bureau measures its data. When the government began examining poverty back in the early 1960s, the line for determining who fell underneath the threshold was determined solely by looking at food costs.

In the decades since, there’s been increasing criticism this benchmark, as it doesn’t take into account tax rates and assistance programs such as food stamps, child care expenses and medical costs. In examining its most recent data, the Census Bureau considered these previously ignored factors, deemed the “supplemental poverty measure.”

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