Monday, July 30, 2018

The Golden State is not so golden

California’s is home to scores of billionaires, yet almost 4 in every 10 residents are living at or near the poverty line.

Researchers from PPIC and Stanford University, who believe federal poverty guidelines fail to capture true hardship in the state, adjusted their criteria to include things like the cost of living. When they did two counties stood out: Los Angeles and Santa Cruz, each with a roughly 24% poverty rate. Santa Barbara County isn’t far behind, nor is San Francisco.

And no group of Californians suffers more from the effects of poverty than Latinos. Though they are only 39% of the state’s population, Latino men, women and children constitute almost 53% of California’s poor.  Almost 46% of California’s children were at or near the threshold of poverty in 2016. Los Angeles and Santa Cruz counties also had the highest percentages of needy children. 

The research team calculated poverty statistics for the state’s 120 legislative districts and 53 congressional districts. Assembly districts, the smallest of the jurisdictions, almost all had poverty rates above 16% of the population except for some affluent suburbs and elite coastal communities. Congressional districts from the edges of Silicon Valley down to Southern California have poverty rates above 20%. And in each of three state Senate districts drawn through the heart of Los Angeles, roughly one-third of residents live in poverty, with some families of four struggling to survive on less than $28,000 a year.

 The overall poverty number would be worse — perhaps another 8% of the state’s population — if not for a handful of social safety net programs. The report highlights two as most effective: food stamps, which are distributed as part of the CalFresh program, and the earned income tax credits offered by the state and federal governments. Without those kinds of programs, the researchers concluded, poverty would rise sharply. Poverty in the state is everywhere and is hardly going away.

No comments: