California Poverty:
Basic Statistics

Poverty Profile

California has the highest rate of poverty at 13.2% of any state in the U.S. (3-year average, 2019-21) 1

An estimated 5,160,000 Californians are living in poverty, larger than the total population of 28 individual states 1,22

13.5% of Latinos in California lived in poverty in fall 2021. 2

12.6% of African Americans in California lived in poverty in fall 2021. 2

11.8% of Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in California lived in poverty in fall 2021. 2

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

28.7% of all California residents were poor or near poor in fall 2021. 2

Poverty & Immigration

16.1% of immigrant Californians lived in poverty in fall 2021. 2

25.1% of undocumented immigrant Californians lived in poverty in fall 2021. 2

10% of non-immigrant Californians lived in poverty in fall 2021. 2

Child Poverty

9% of children lived in poverty in fall 2021. 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. 5

Poverty and Work

64.2% of poor Californians lived in families with at least one working adult in fall 2021. 2

34.7% of those in poverty had at least one family member working full time for the entire year. 2

29.5% had a family member who worked part time and/or part of the year. 2


Over 3.5 million Californians, including 1 in 11 adults, and 1 in 8 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 3.9 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 10.3% higher in fall 2021, and 19.7% higher for children. 2

Without the safety net in fall 2021, poverty would be 15.2 points higher in the Central Valley and Sierra; 5.7 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

186 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 nearly 3 out of 10 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

Black and Latino families make up 11% of those with incomes above the 90th percentile, despite comprising 43% of all families in California; but they comprise 58% of the lowest-income families. 18

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