For a long time, I've been pointing out that many standard statistics of income, poverty, or cost of living fail to fully get at the underlying question of most interest: standard of living. Now, a new study from the Public Policy Institute of California that includes a better cost of living measure and government benefits finds that California, home to Silicon Valley and Hollywood, has the worst poverty rate of any state in the country, with vast Los Angeles County having the worst poverty rate in the state.
From the Los Angeles Times:
A new analysis of hardship that adds factors such as housing costs and government benefits found that 27% of L.A. County residents lived in poverty in 2011, compared with the official rate of 18%.
By Gale Holland
September 30, 2013, 9:05 p.m.
Los Angeles has the highest poverty rate among California counties, according to a new analysis announced Monday that upends traditional views of rural and urban hardship by adding factors such as the soaring price of city housing.
The measurement, developed by researchers with the Public Policy Institute of California and the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, found that 2.6 million, or 27%, of Los Angeles County residents lived in poverty in 2011. The official poverty rate for the county, based on the U.S. Census' 2011 American Community Survey, is 18%.
The new analysis set California's poverty rate at 22%, the highest in the nation, compared with the official rate of 16%. [Emphasis mine].
Counties such as Placer and Sacramento, with more moderate housing costs, have lower poverty rates than those of metropolitan areas, researchers said.
"We always see maps of official poverty and think of the Central Valley as the most impoverished,"
Well, much of the Central Valley also looks depressingly poor when you drive through it.
said economist Sarah Bohn, a research fellow at the public policy institute and one of the study's authors. "This really turns that on its head."
The new model aims to present a fuller picture of poverty by taking into account living expenses and government benefits ignored in the official formula.