Poor showing: California has most poverty of any U.S. state

California’s poverty rate of 23.5 percent is the highest of any state in the country, according to new information from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Census Bureau worked with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to compile a Supplemental Poverty Measure, which factors in government programs to assist low-income people and families that aren’t included in official, income-based poverty measures that were developed in the early 1960s.

The new measure’s thresholds factor in the amount families spend on a basic goods including food, clothing, shelter and utilities and a small additional amount to allow for other needs such as household supplies, personal care items and non-work-related transportation. It’s adjusted to factor in geographical differences in housing costs, and also includes resources beyond income, such as nutrition assistance, subsidized housing, and home energy credits.

The nearest three-year (2009 to 2011) poverty rate to California’s is the District of Columbia with 23.2 percent. The next-highest poverty rate for a state is Arizona at 19.8 percent.

Some experts believe California’s higher cost of living is responsible for the increase in its poverty rate under the new means of evaluation, compared to 16.3 percent under the old measurement criteria.

Nationally, the new-measure poverty rate increased by a full percentage point, to 16.1 percent, or nearly 50 million people in poverty.

A link to the U.S. Census Bureau’s report is below:

U.S. Census report on poverty