Poverty deepens in Central Valley
October 20, 2011
• Four of nation’s most impoverished areas are in the Valley
• More than 5 Million Californians in poverty
Four of the nation’s ten large metropolitan areas with the worst poverty levels are in the Central Valley, according to figures released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
With 26.8 percent of its residents living at or below the poverty line last year, Fresno ranks second in the nation, trailing only the McAllen, Texas, metro area along the Mexican border, where 33.4 percent of residents lived in poverty.
Bakersfield-Delano is ranked fourth in the nation with 21.2 percent of its residents in poverty in 2010, the Census Bureau says.
Modesto is sixth with a poverty rate of 19.9 percent. Stockton is seventh, with 19.2 percent of its residents in poverty.
The Central Valley’s poverty is in sharp contrast with wealthier areas. The metropolitan Washington, D.C., area, which includes suburban Virginia and Maryland counties, had just 8.4 percent of residents in poverty, the lowest rate in the country in 2010.
Honolulu, Hawaii (9.1 percent), Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, N.Y. (9.4 percent), and Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn. (9.4 percent), were among the metropolitan areas with the lowest poverty rates in the nation.
California as a whole had 14.2 percent of its residents – or 5,128,708 people – living in poverty in 2010, the Census Bureau says. It’s the largest number, but not the largest percentage.
That dubious honor goes to Puerto Rico where 45.0 percent of residents were in poverty. Among the 50 states, Mississippi had the worst poverty level at 21.9 percent.
Nationally, the poverty rate increased from 14.3 percent in 2009 to 15.3 percent in 2010. The number of people in poverty increased from 42.9 million to 46.2 million during the same time period.
The poverty rate is an estimate of the proportion of people with family or personal income below their poverty threshold. The income-to-poverty ratio gauges how close a family’s income is to their poverty threshold, measuring the depth of poverty for those with income below their threshold and the proximity to poverty for those with income above their threshold.