A greater share of people live in poverty in California than in any other state, according to a measure used by the U.S. Census Bureau that takes into account the cost of living and government assistance programs.
About 20 percent of Californians lived below the Census' "supplemental" poverty measure from 2014 to 2016, according to data released by the Bureau on Tuesday. That was exceeded only by the District of Columbia where about 21 percent of people live in poverty. However, a greater number of people in California are poor, close to 8 million.
The supplemental poverty measure factors in the government programs for low-income families and individuals, as well as housing costs, which are not included in the official poverty measure.
Nationwide, the number of people in poverty fell between 2015 and 2016 as the median household income increased.
But the poverty rate held steady in California despite growth in income. The median household income nationally was $59,039 in 2016, up 3.2 percent from the 2015 median of $57,230.
“I think the fact that California’s poverty rate essentially held steady might mean that rising housing costs are really limiting the extent to which gains in the job market can lift people out of poverty,” said Alissa Anderson, senior policy analyst with the California Budget and Policy Center.
Households in the Northeast had the highest median incomes, earning $64,390 while households in the West inched behind at $64,275.
The new data also show that the San Jose area may be the most expensive place to be poor in the country.
A family of four that is renting in the San Jose area would have to earn more than $37,400 a year to leave poverty. That's $10,000 more than the national threshold. The San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward region had the second highest poverty threshold in the country, followed by Honolulu.