California still has the nation’s highest poverty rate when you take into account the state’s high cost of living. But the number of people living in poverty here has dropped since the beginning of the decade.
There were nearly 600,000 fewer impoverished Californians in 2016 than in 2011, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.
That’s unequivocally positive. The state’s economic recovery took a long time to touch lower-income households, but a booming labor market and long overdue wage gains—as well as a strong safety net that kept things from getting worse—have finally benefited people living near the bottom of the income scale.
Even as housing prices have risen dramatically over the same period, the poverty rate dropped from nearly 22 percent in 2011 to about 19 percent in 2016, the most recent year poverty data is available.
That may not sound like much of a decline. But the sheer size of California means any movement in the poverty rate is going to affect a huge number of people. And poverty rates don’t see a lot of movement year-to-year anyway.