California Poverty

By Brenda Gazzar, Los Angeles Daily News
Posted: 11/06/13, 8:24 PM PST |

An alternative method of looking at poverty has found that California has the highest rate of impoverished people in the nation, according to figures released Wednesday by the U.S. government.

The alternate calculation, which factors in taxes, noncash benefits and day-to-day costs such as child care, means that California has nearly 2.8 million more poor people than the official poverty rate shows, with nearly one in four state residents being considered poor.

The official rate released by the U.S. Census Bureau in September determined that California had some 6.2 million poor people when using a three-year average that ended in 2012. However, the bureau’s alternate or supplemental poverty measure, which takes into account more factors like cost of living and public benefits, found the Golden State had nearly 9 million people living in poverty in the same period.

While more than a dozen states had a larger share of poor people than California did under the official rate, the alternate rate put California at the top of the list, followed by the District of Columbia. Under the official rate, California was tied for 14th place, with Louisiana topping the list, followed by Mississippi.

“It increases California’s poverty rate by a fairly substantial amount, from 16.5 percent to 23.8 percent,” said Jonathan Buttle, a research program specialist with the California Department of Finance. “It simply presents an alternative snapshot to the official number.”

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