Californians in poverty fell by 1.6 million in pandemic era’s first 2 years

”Survey says” looks at various rankings and scorecards judging geographic locations while noting these grades are best seen as a mix of artful interpretation and data.

Buzz: The number of impoverished Californians fell by 1.6 million in the coronavirus era’s first two years.

Source: My trusty spreadsheet reviewed the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Report for the three years ended in 2021 vs. pre-coronavirus 2017-2019 for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The report offers an expanded tally of Americans living in deep financial stress, based on incomes, government assistance programs and household expenses including local cost of living variances.


Since it’s the season for celebrations, we’ll highlight the good economic news: There was far less poverty in 2020 and 2021.

The improvement was by no means just in California. The rest of the nation saw a 7.6 million drop in those living in poverty. The No. 2 dip was found in Texas at 868,000, followed by Florida at 702,000, Illinois at 456,000 and New York at 424,000.

Yes, tons of pandemic-related federal and state aid to all Americans – much of it targeting lower-income households – was key.


The big drops came in big states with big poverty challenges. So, we’ll also tip our caps to where poverty fell at the fastest rate.

California’s 23% percentage drop only ranked 32nd among the states. Best was Maine, off 43%, then Oregon, down 36%, New Jersey and South Dakota, down 33%, and New Hampshire, down 32%.

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