California has highest poverty rate of all US states, new report finds

Simran Sarin/Staff

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California has the highest poverty rate of any U.S. state, according to new statistics released last month by the United States Census Bureau.

In its report, the Census Bureau used cost of living to determine poverty level. The report utilized a standard called the “supplemental poverty measure,” or SPM, which incorporates various factors including expenditures on food, clothing, shelter and utilities, as well as geographic variations, in housing costs.

According to the Census Bureau, individuals are considered poor if the resources they share with others in the household are “not enough” to meet their basic needs.

The Census Bureau began reporting SPM in 2011, to enhance the previously used “official poverty measure,” which applies a universal poverty threshold based on income. In other words, with the official poverty measure, the Census Bureau considers anyone earning less than a certain income impoverished, whether they live in California or Mississippi. SPM, however, takes into account that the same income cannot go as far in California as it can in other states.

A little more than 20 percent of Californians — about 8 million people — live in poverty, according to the state’s SPM rate. By comparison, in Mississippi, the state with the highest poverty rate by the official poverty measure, only about 16 percent live in poverty, according to the state’s SPM.

According to UC Berkeley’s Basic Needs Security Committee chair Ruben E. Canedo, the experiences of campus students living in poverty provide context for the state’s high poverty rate. Canedo also stressed the importance of supporting students living in poverty.

“To be poor in the Bay Area … it’s survival,” Canedo said. “When you support the members of your community that are most challenged, the entire community benefits.”

While California’s poverty rate remains high, the state’s SPM has declined from 23.4 percent, which was the average from 2011 through 2013, to 20.4 percent in 2016.

Campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff said California’s high housing costs, which also raise the state’s SPM, can make living in Berkeley difficult for all students.

“Financing an education, including at UC Berkeley, can be challenging,” Ratliff said in an email. “Some costs like housing are in part reflective of our location in an expensive region.”

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín, however, said he believes UC Berkeley contributes to the housing crisis in Berkeley by not adequately housing all of its students.

“The fact that the university has not built enough housing for students has a direct impact on the city’s housing market,” Arreguín said. “The university has not built enough student housing for the thousands of students at Cal. … It’s unacceptable.”

Contact Sam Levin at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @SamJLevin.

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  • hoapres

    >> “The fact that the university has not built enough housing for students has a direct impact on the city’s housing market,” Arreguín said. “The university has not built enough student housing for the thousands of students at Cal. … It’s unacceptable.” <<

    The solution is obvious.

    Admit less students.

  • hoapres

    The sooner the tech industry crashes then the better off America will be.

  • hoapres

    Unfortunately no one has enough guts to give a speech like the commander at USAFA. So here it goes:

    If you aren’t making $150K+ a year then you need to go!

    If your business can’t afford to hire Americans because you only hire h1b wage slaves then you need to go!

    If you are an h1b then you need to go!

    If you are an illegal alien then you need to go!

    I just solved the problem.

  • Killer Marmot

    California is one of the most progressive states in the union, as well as one of the richest states by per capita GDP. How could it be that a political philosophy specifically designed to help the downtrodden has resulted in so much poverty? Could it be that many anti-poverty policies, such as a high minimum wage, have the opposite effect than is intended?

  • lspanker

    California has highest poverty rate of all US states

    Why is anyone surprised, given that high taxes and bureaucracy drive off businesses, and sanctuary city policies encourage illegals to come here?

    • OldManFred

      The problem isn’t taxes or illegal immigrants, the problem is cost of living. if you’re anywhere else in the country and you’re making $80K a year, you’re doing quite well. If you’re in the Bay Area, you’re barely getting by.

      • hoapres

        Simple solution. Deport illegal aliens and h1bs. Then employers will move.

        I just solved the problem.

        • OldManFred

          You solved nothing. Deporting illegal aliens will not “solve” poverty. Immigrants add more to the economy then they cost. They’re a net benefit. Deporting them makes the economy worse. There isn’t any real solution to the problem, which is why it’s still a problem.

          • hoapres

            Sure it will. At least it will help. Wages go up and housing costs go down.

            It’s a win-win.

          • OldManFred

            Housing costs may go down, they may not. It’s not likely that those on the
            bottom of the economic ladder are exerting much upward pressure on
            the costs of housing, that’s probably due to those at the top of the ladder who can
            afford to pay a premium on housing. Everyone else ends up squeezed into sub-optimal housing. And there’s no real reason to believe that wages would go up, again, immigrants add to the economy, as consumers they put money into the local economy which helps create jobs. With that gone, those jobs go away. And there’s no reason to
            believe that the jobs currently occupied by immigrants, whether illegal or H1B, would necessarily go to current citizens, especially if special skills are required or they’re in industries like agriculture that Americans don’t want to do. Your thinking is remarkably short-sighted. The world is not as simple as you believe it to be.

          • hoapres

            What is good for you just might not be good for America.

            Now this won’t happen (sticking to the economics because you could argue humanitarian issues are involved).

            Assume we deport every h1b and illegal alien. Then wages are going to go up because of the labor supply shock for the short run. The jobs might simply move because it costs too much to do the job here. (Works for me). The essential stuff like food is going to get harvested. One might have to pay a little bit more but then freedom isn’t free. Life isn’t fair.

            I just solved the problem.


            You really don’t have the right to flood America with cheap foreign labor. Don’t like the American workforce then get OUT of America.

            You can say, Thank You.

          • OldManFred

            Look, I’m sure that, to you, deporting immigrants sounds like a great plan. The reason we aren’t going to do that isn’t because it would cause a humanitarian nightmare, although it would, it’s that doing so wouldn’t actually solve anything at all. Look, why don’t we just deport all republicans to Alaska and confiscate their assets. That won’t solve anything either, but it at least has this great advantage: republicans irritate me more than immigrants do. And it also has the advantage of us not having to worry that the fields won’t be harvested because the vast majority of the people who work in agricultural work aren’t republicans. Sure, it would set up a humanitarian nightmare and would be totally unfair, but as you said yourself, life isn’t fair, right? Or when you said that, did you just mean that life doesn’t have to be fair for others, but it should be fair for you? I mean, lets face it, that’s what you meant. You can say, Thank you.

          • hoapres

            You can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs. Unfortunately, the immigration issue that was supposed to get solved in 1986 with an amnesty only resulted in more illegals.

            Now some want another amnesty.

            The best economic course of action is to deport although I agree with you that it might not be humanitarian. That’s the way it is.

          • OldManFred

            Well, I think you and I agree then, we should deport all republicans. And I don’t mean just the immigrants, but all the citizens, natural born citizens. Sure, it would be totally unconstitutional, but lets face it,republicans are awful, they take up too much space, they’re way too entitled and believing that they’re owed something that they’re not owed, we’re just better off getting rid of them altogether. And, sure, that’s totally unfair, but like you said, life isn’t fair. Thanks for agreeing with me. Please leave all of your assets with the State Government, and good luck in Alaska!

          • hoapres

            Life isn’t fair.

            I got mine and I don’t want you to have it.

            That sounds cruel but that’s the way it is.

            We simply can’t have everybody coming to the United States and have to draw the line somewhere. We were supposed to have drawn the line in 1986 and didn’t.

          • OldManFred

            Look, don’t you understand that once you start to go down this “Life isn’t fair” route, what you’re saying is that you don’t care about anyone but yourself, you’re opening yourself up to having this turned back on you. People who have immigrated to this country have worked far harder than you have to get here, to get what they have, even illegal immigrants, to chase their American dream, and what you’re saying is that you don’t care about anyone else, you’re willing to take what someone else has worked for, well why shouldn’t we take from you instead? What makes you think you deserve it, what makes you think you’ve earned it? Just because you don’t want us to have it? Too bad, you deserve nothing. Because you fell out of a womb attached to a woman who was in the right place? This country owes you nothing, and has likely given you more than you’ll ever repay. I say we keep the immigrants and deport you instead, and you should agree with this, because like you said, life isn’t fair. I draw the line at republicans. They need to leave.

          • hoapres

            Good luck with that.

            Sorry, this idea that we have to let everybody in is nuts.

          • OldManFred

            We don’t have to “let everyone in”. But someone let your grandparents in, or great grandparents or whatever, much to our current detriment. And we owe it to ourselves to allow those who want to come here to work hard and create a better life for themselves to do so, and to do so legally, because by doing so, they create a better, stronger and more prosperous America. That’s the truth, whether you like it or not. It’s not nuts, it’s literally how the country was built.

          • hoapres

            Tough Luck

            The boat is full and we don’t need anymore coming on board.

            That’s the truth.

          • OldManFred

            That’s your truth. And it’s your truth for this simple fact: you’re lazy and you’re afraid of the competition. I think we should keep the immigrants and get rid of you. And I don’t care what your feelings on the matter are. Life isn’t fair, right? Or did you just mean that life isn’t fair for everyone else, but it should be for you?

          • hoapres

            Actually it is the truth. We got 330 million people in this country and not a very big secret being the fact that the food production system of this country isn’t capable over the long run feeding the population that we got let alone the whole planet.


            We really do have enough people in this country. The AMERICAN WAY is to OWN a single family home and NOT to have 20+ story apartment buildings.

          • OldManFred

            It’s your truth, it’s not the truth. We are one of the largest exporters of food in the world, and Silicon Valley and the Tech Industry that you hate are working on ways to increase food production well beyond what we’re already capable of. Food is not the issue in this country, although distribution of it sometimes is.
            You don’t speak for America. Most of that 330 million you speak of lives in cities or dense urban areas, that’s where most of the economic activity happens and it also happens to be where most of the immigrants to this country live. Most of this country doesn’t support this president, most of this country supports the rights of immigrants. That’s real America, not the America where you live. The America where you live is frightened of what you don’t understand, you’re afraid of recent immigrants to this country because you’re afraid that you will be exposed for what you truly are: Mediocre. You’re afraid that someone who comes here with probably limited english skills will eat your lunch becasue you can’t compete with them, you have no usefull skills and nothing to offer this world. You know, in this whole discussion, you know what I have yet to hear from you: Why you deserve to be here. Not one reason. What good have you ever done for this country? What makes you think you deserve to be here, because you were born here? Nope, try again. Because you made this country a better place to live? Doubt it, you seem to think it’s getting worse. You’re as useless as they come, and you know it, and that’s what you’re afraid of, you’re afraid that you won’t be able to compete. Oh well, too bad so sad. I’ve got news for you, Mr. Useless, pretty soon it won’t be an immigrant coming to take your job, it’ll be a machine, and good luck coming up with a way to deport them. Your goose is cooked. Good luck with that. You can say, Thank you.

          • hoapres

            We soon find out. Actually it is probably 20 years off before the chickens come home to roost.

            One thing is for sure. Trump got elected which drives my liberal friends completely nuts.

          • OldManFred

            Haha, still haven’t heard any justification for your existence, yet. Must not have much material on that front. And 20 years is wildly optimistic. 10 is more realistic. And yup, Trump is POTUS, for now. It’s turning out to be quite a victory lap for conservatism. People are getting real tired of this tire fire, I wouldn’t be planning on a second term. Russia won’t save you in 2020.

          • hoapres

            Trump isn’t a conservative. With that said, he at least has stirred up the pot.

          • OldManFred

            Haha, yeah, sorry, I know that trick. According to every conservative I’ve ever talked to, every conservative politician is a true conservative until it’s clear they’re a failure, then they become a liberal. Sorry to break it to you, Donald Trump is a conservative, he’s a Fox News watching, racist real estate developer, he checks all of the boxes. That he’s a failure isn’t evidence of his lack of a conservative ideology, it’s evidence for it. Conservatism is a failure, it’s failed everywhere it’s tried, and it will continue to because it’s an ideology that’s divorced from reality. His “stirring the pot” is damaging this country. And that you conservatives are standing by him will just mean that you will have no room at all to criticize once the Democrats get back in power.

          • hoapres

            The UnObama is doing OK by me.

          • Scott Jenner

            Correct! Countries like Switzerland are wise and limit immigration. So how come nobody targets the Swiss? They have the #1 living standard and strong economy as well.

          • Secret Person

            Good luck with that, moron. The vast majority of crime is committed by Democrap voters. Let’s take California – 73% of homicides are committed by hispanics and blacks. Much of the remaining percentage are surely committed by white liberals. The US would therefore be much better off deporting Democrap voters, the crime rate would plummet tremendously and the quality of life would drastically improve. Mexico would be a great place for all you imbeciles since you love diversity. It’s ironic and racist and hypocritical that Democraps always pick white Canada as the place to “flee” to.

          • OldManFred

            Crime is at or near all time lows, and that’s actually a generational thing: Baby boomers (who by and large now vote republican in large numbers) were the most criminally prone generation in American history, due in large measure to the levels of lead exposure they were exposed to growing up in the era of leaded gasoline. Levels of crime reached all time highs in the 1990’s, and for the most part have been falling ever since. So by your logic, we’d actually be best off deporting all Baby boomers. They truly were the most useless generation, they oversaw the explosion of government debt (mostly as a result of conservative economic policies), they had children early and out of wedlock at rates never seen before or since. I really can’t think of much that they did to make the world a better place. The Trump presidency truly epitomizes who the Boomers are, he is the capstone on their legacy, and he’s, as Tillerson said, the real moron.

          • lspanker

            Look, I’m sure that, to you, deporting immigrants sounds like a great plan. The reason we aren’t going to do that isn’t because it would cause a humanitarian nightmare

            Oh, bullsh!t. We don’t deport them because Democrats depend on them for votes.

          • OldManFred

            Non-citizens can’t and don’t vote. And we don’t deport them because there’s no reason to, they add to our country, they’re productive members of society, they’re building a better America, just as immigrants always have. Sorry that you’re a racist and can’t see that, but it’s true.

          • Graeme Stewart

            AND THE PENNY DROPS.
            This democrat is just worried about loosing his field hands. Your party is still defending slavery I see. Glad your consistent

          • OldManFred

            When you compare the work that immigrants take great risk to come here to do, and get paid for, to slavery, you cheapen the horror that was slavery. I would avoid doing that. Not to say that there isn’t still some forms of slavery here in this country, but that doesn’t capture the majority of the immigrant experience in this country.

          • Graeme Stewart

            Yea I get it. White man wants his cheap avocados from whole foods and doesn’t give a damn how they get there.

          • OldManFred

            I’m sorry, am I the “white man” you’re referring to? Because I’m not a white man. And I’ve only been in a Whole Foods a handful of times in my life.

          • Graeme Stewart

            I wanted to do a simple menial job when I was younger but couldn’t because back of house jobs were for the Mexicans I was told I needed to be out front. The House Negro. You don’t speak all Americans bruh.

          • OldManFred

            Sorry that your dishwashing dreams didn’t work out, man. Blaming immigrants for that is aiming at the wrong target. I never pretended to “speak for all Americans”, but most Americans do agree with me that deporting all immigrants isn’t a solution to any problem we have in this country, and that many of those who are here illegally deserve a path to legal residency and citizenship.

          • Graeme Stewart

            Do you get nose bleeds often from that ivory tower your in?

          • OldManFred

            This isn’t a knock against Dish Washers, man, the world needs dish washers and there’s never any dishonor in a hard day’s work. But you’re standing here trying to blame immigrants for your inability to get a job washing dishes, and I’m telling you that you’re aiming your ire at the wrong target.

          • lspanker

            You solved nothing. Deporting illegal aliens will not “solve” poverty. Immigrants add more to the economy then they cost. They’re a net benefit.

            You actually believe that nonsense?

          • OldManFred

            I believe it because it’s true.

          • Love of Country

            So we should dump illegals in the projects to abolish the crime and poverty there?

            You just solved America’s problems!

            But seriously. America has been the greatest nation on earth for decades.

            We don’t need people from lesser countries in order to be great here.

            Or to put it in terms even you can understand ….. You don’t take pure cocaine or meth and cut it with a bunch of garbage and then you have better cocaine or meth.

            We don’t need more illegals here and never mind one day all too soon the country will be lamenting overcrowding and blaming the Progs once again.

            But if you really believe American towns are safer with more illegal aliens then you’re just too high.

            Don’t you even know the Progs manipulate crime data ad nauseam just so they can say “we told you so” when it comes to their failed social experiments they engage in to pull the wool over the eyes and pander to minority voters until that minority is all but destroyed from the inside out?

            I didn’t think you did.

          • OldManFred

            This is among the most incoherent things I’ve read in a long time. I honestly don’t know where to start. At no point did I ever suggest “dumping illegals in the projects” would solve poverty, so clearly your reading comprehension needs some work. “Lesser Countries”? I mean, most countries are poorer, I guess if that makes them “lesser” to you, or their citizens “lesser”, you don’t really understand how this country became great, do you? The things you believe about the world are all wrong, and you should seriously reevaluate them. And America has always been great because we’ve always been welcoming of immigrants, it was true decades ago and it’s true now. I have no idea where you’re going with the drug refrences, are you insinuating that I’m high? I’m a family man, I have neither the time nor the inclination. This country is far from being “overcrowded” but maybe if you feel that it is, refrain from having children yourself, clearly what you have to offer is of no value to the American genepool. And as a data analyst myself, I can tell you if you think only one side manipulates or cherry picks data, you’re fooling yourself, which will make it much easier for others to fool you. Look, I’m sorry that any shade of skin fairer than “pasty white” frightens you, or that you’re afraid that one day your children or grandchildren will be treated the way you currently treat minorities, but your hangup is not my hangup. I’ve known plenty of good immigrants, and worked will plenty more. They make this country great, not the xenophobia and racism and small mindedness you bring to the table. I’d gladly keep them over someone like you any day of the week.