(CALMATTERS NETWORK) – If California is outperforming other states when it comes to COVID, it isn’t doing as well when it comes to poverty levels. When the cost of living is taken into account, California has a higher percentage of residents living in poverty than any other state in the nation at 15.4%, according to a Tuesday report from the U.S. Census Bureau that averaged the rates from 2018 to 2020. Only the District of Columbia had a higher rate, at 16.5%. However, the latest numbers show improvement for California: In 2019, the three-year average of its adjusted poverty rate was 17.2%, and in 2018 it was 18.1%.
The report also found that nationally, pandemic stimulus checks moved 11.7 million people out of poverty and expanded unemployment benefits kept 5.5 million people from entering poverty — though those benefits recently expired for more than 2 million Californians. And even as Newsom and lawmakers take steps to widen the state’s safety net — including by sending stimulus checks to two-thirds of Californians — the cost of gas, food and shelter continues to rise, according to a Tuesday report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the Bay Area, for example, consumer prices rose 3.7% in August compared with the same month a year before.