With all the recent hoopla about California’s record-low unemployment rate and the heady prospect of its becoming No. 5 in global economic rankings, it is easy to lose sight of another salient fact: It is the nation’s most poverty-stricken state.

So says the U.S. Census Bureau in its “supplemental measure” of poverty that is a far more accurate than the traditional measure because it takes into account not only income, but living costs.

By the measure, just over 20 percent of Californians are living in poverty. The Public Policy Institute of California has devised its own measure, similar to the Census Bureau’s, that not only validates the 20 percent figure, but tells us that another 20 percent of Californians are in “near-poverty,” which means they struggle to pay for food, shelter and other necessities of life.

Another indicator of California’s impoverishment is that more than a third of its 39 million residents are enrolled in Medi-Cal, the state-federal program of medical care for the poor. And that doesn’t count a few million more who cannot legally obtain Medi-Cal coverage because they are undocumented immigrants.

Finally, 60 percent of California’s 6 million K-12 students are either “English-learners” or come from poor families, thus qualifying their schools for additional state support aimed at improving their academic achievements.

Two new reports not only underscore California’s economic stratification, but point to its underlying factors.

One comes from the Tax Foundation and delves into the sharp differences in cost-of-living by comparing what $100 buys in each state.

It would have $115 in relative purchasing power in Mississippi, which has the nation’s lowest overall living costs, but just $84 in Hawaii, which has the highest. California, unfortunately, is much closer to Hawaii than to Mississippi at $88, the 47th highest.

Our soaring housing costs are one factor. It’s not unusual for a low-income family …read more

Source:: East Bay – Politics

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