Most SoCal Counties Fall Below State's Average Poverty Rate

People wait in line outside of St. Francis Center for the opening of the soup kitchen on September 13, 2011 in Los Angeles | Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Census numbers published today reveal that the number of Californians living in poverty has increased substantially since 2000. Sacramento Bee's numbers maven Dan Walters calculated that poverty has grown three times as fast as the population, which went up 10 percent in the last decade:

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In 2000, 4.3 million Californians were living in poverty but by 2010, the number had increased to 5.8 million, a 34.3 percent jump that reflected the serious recession that has gripped the state in recent years. The state's overall rate climbed from 12.7 percent in 2000 to 15.8 percent in 2010.

Two of the ten most impoverished counties are in Southern California: Kern (21.4 percent) and Imperial (22.3 percent), the latter which topped the list in 2000, but was replaced by Fresno (26.8 percent) in 2010. (Imperial has the highest unemployment rate in the state at an atypical 28.9 percent while Fresno sits at 15.7 percent, the fourth highest, according to October numbers)

Other counties in the region that fell below the state's overall rate include San Bernardino (18.1 percent), Santa Barbara (17.7 percent), Los Angeles (17.6 percent) and Riverside (16.4 percent).

Counties bucking the state average include San Diego (14.8 percent), Orange (12.2 percent) and San Luis Obispo (14.3 percent). Ventura (11 percent) placed in the list of top ten counties with the lowest rate. The county at the top of that list is San Mateo (7 percent).

Below is a map of the top ten counties on both ends of the spectrum. Counties with the lowest rates of poverty are in blue, the highest rates in red. Note the clusters at the state's northern border, Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley and Eastern California.


View Poverty in California in a larger map

About the Author

Zach Behrens is KCET's Director of News, Region and State, working on digital and on-air news products that relate to Southern California and beyond.
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