California Poverty:
Basic Statistics

Poverty Profile

California has the highest rate of poverty at 15.4% of any state in the U.S. 1

An estimated 6,041,000 Californians are living in poverty, bigger than the total population of 31 individual states 1

21% of Latinos in California lived in poverty (3,277,100 people) in 2019. 2, 3

17% of African Americans in California lived in poverty (357,500 people) in 2019. 2, 3

14% of Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in California lived in poverty (830,400 people) in 2019. 2, 3

190,200 other race/ethnicity individuals in poverty (non-Latino) in California. 2, 3

24% of people with disabilities in California lived in poverty (830,400 people) in 2018. 4

34% of all California residents were poor or near poor in 2019. 2

Poverty & Immigration

22% of immigrant Californians lived in poverty in 2019. 2

36% of undocumented immigrant Californians lived in poverty in 2019. 2

14.4% of non-immigrant Californians lived in poverty in 2019. 2

Child Poverty

17.6% of children live in poverty. 2

Fact: If Congress renewed the expanded Child Tax Credit payments, an estimated 613,000 =kids in California would have been lifted out of poverty. 4

Poverty and Work

Nearly 80% of poor Californians lived in families with at least one working adult in 2019. 2

47% of those in poverty had at least one family member working full time for the entire year. 2

32.4% had a family member who worked part time and/or part of the year. 2


Over 4 million Californians, including 1 in 10 adults, and 1 in 7 children, face hunger. 6

Housing and Homelessness

An estimated 161,548 Californians experience homelessness on any given day. 7

California has the lowest amount of available affordable housing units with only 32 affordable housing units for every 100 renter households. 8

Fact: If housing costs had remained steady since 2013, 800,000 fewer Californians would be in poverty. 9

The Safety Net

An estimated 2.6 million more Californians would be in poverty without the state’s largest social safety net programs, including federal and state EITC and CTC, CalFresh, CalWORKs, and General Assistance. 2

Without existing safety net programs, California’s poverty rate would have been 6.6% higher in 2019, and 12% higher for children. 2

Without the safety net in 2019, poverty would be 12 points higher in the Central Valley and Sierra; 3 points higher in the Bay area. 2


Black Californians constitute 6% of the state’s total population, but 27% of California’s incarcerated population. 10

Roughly 239,000 people are incarcerated in California. 10

Income & Wealth Inequality

189 billionaires live in California — more than any other state in the U.S., and more than any other country outside of the U.S. and China. 11, 12

California is by far the richest state in the country when measuring combined net worth. 2, 15, 16

California is the fifth largest economy in the world when measuring GDP, yet more than a third of Californians are living below or near the poverty line. 2, 15, 16

California ranks fifth in the country for the worst income inequality with a ratio of 17.4 (the share of income going to the top 20% of households compared to the share of income going to the bottom 20%). 16

White Californians average over $51,000 in annual income compared to Black, Latino, and Native American Californians who average less than $37,000. 17

20% of all net worth is concentrated in the 30 wealthiest zip codes, home to just 2% of Californians. 18

Nationwide, the typical (median-wealth) white family has more than eight times the wealth of a typical African American or Latino family. 19

The Latina pay gap in California is the worst in the country, with Latina women earning $.42 for every $1 made by a white male. 20

In California, for every $1 made by a white male, a Black female makes $0.58 (the same as in Alabama). 21