Walter Mencken 6:15 p.m., Feb. 28
Poverty level likely higher than official Census estimates
Study shows cost-of-living-adjusted rate would be 50% higher than official San Diego estimates
New data from the Public Policy Institute of California suggests that 8.1 million Californians, or 22 percent of the state’s population, lives in poverty. These numbers contrast the official U.S. Census Bureau numbers, which put statewide poverty levels at just 16 percent.
Explaining the differences in calculation, the Institute writes:
The California Poverty Measure combines a family's annual cash income—including earnings and cash benefits from the government like CalWORKs and Social Security—with two types of resources excluded from the official poverty calculation: tax obligations and credits, and in-kind benefits, such as CalFresh, federal housing subsidies, and school lunch programs. Then, major nondiscretionary expenses are subtracted, such as child care, commuting, and out-of-pocket medical expenses. Finally, the California Poverty Measure compares these resources to a poverty threshold specific to family size and location.
San Diego County slightly underperformed the state as a whole, with 22.7 percent of residents considered poor (with an income threshold of $31,307 for a family of two adults and two children), but turns in lower numbers than both Los Angeles and Orange, which, with San Diego, comprise the three largest counties by population. Census estimates put the local poverty level at 14.9 percent.
Without need-based government assistance programs, the Institute estimates a full 30 percent of Californians and 39 percent of children in the state would fall below the poverty line as adjusted for regional costs of living.
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