Conservative magazine falsely claims California has highest poverty rate in America

The National Review recently published an article by Kerry Jackson claiming that California had the highest poverty rate of any state in America.

Jackson cites the U.S. Census Bureau’s supplemental poverty measure to support its claim, but does not say exactly what the rate is.

The article gives plenty of other statistics, using the primary argument that “California, with 12 percent of the American population, is home today to roughly one in three of the nation’s welfare recipients.”

According to the recently released Small Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) from the Census Bureau for 2016, California ranks 20th in overall poverty for all ages with a rate of 14.4 percent — slightly above the national rate of 14 percent.

SAIPE statistics are based on the American Community Survey and various economic measures.  States with the top rates are, contrary to the National Review article, Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico, Washington, D.C., and Kentucky.

Poverty rates for all 50 states plus D.C. can be seen in the table below.

State / County Name Poverty State Rank All Ages in Poverty Percent
United States   14
Mississippi 1 21
Louisiana 2 20.1
New Mexico 3 19.1
District of Columbia 4 18.5
Kentucky 5 18.2
West Virginia 6 17.9
Alabama 7 17.2
Arkansas 8 17.2
Arizona 9 16.4
Georgia 10 16.1
Oklahoma 11 16.1
Tennessee 12 15.8
Texas 13 15.6
North Carolina 14 15.4
South Carolina 15 15.3
Michigan 16 14.9
Florida 17 14.8
New York 18 14.8
Ohio 19 14.5
California 20 14.4
Nevada 21 14.1
Indiana  22 14
Missouri 23 14
Idaho 24 13.8
Montana 25 13.4
Oregon 26 13.4
Rhode Island 27 13.3
Illinois 28 13
Pennsylvania 29 12.9
South Dakota 30 12.9
Maine 31 12.3
Kansas 32 12.2
Delaware 33 11.8
Wisconsin 34 11.8
Iowa 35 11.7
Nebraska 36 11.3
Vermont 37 11.3
Washington 38 11.3
Colorado 39 11
Virginia 40 11
Wyoming 41 10.9
Massachusetts 42 10.5
North Dakota 43 10.5
New Jersey 44 10.4
Utah 45 10.2
Alaska 46 9.9
Connecticut 47 9.9
Minnesota 48 9.9
Maryland 49 9.7
Hawaii 50 9.5
New Hampshire 51 7.6

 

California’s high rate of welfare recipients can be explained by the state’s less stringent eligibility criteria compared to other states.

National Review and Jackson should know easily debunkable claims should not be publicized as fact.

 

[Photo courtesy Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG]