Census Bureau: California Number One in Poverty

Published on October 24th, 2014

How much longer California can continue to import poverty before it wakes up to and acknowledges the reality on the ground is anyone’s guess. But the day of reckoning has to be drawing closer.

Homeless with belongings sit on a Los Angeles street.

According to an alternative method of gauging poverty that the Census Bureau developed, California ranks highest among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Last week, the bureau published its latest report which found that 8.9 million Californians, about 24 percent of the state’s total population, live in poverty. Two other nonprofit research organizations, the Public Policy Institute of California and the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, have analyzed the same data and drew similar conclusions as the Census Bureau.

The poverty statistics can hardly be described as surprising. California is the most popular destination for illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America, most undereducated and unskilled. The aggregate number of illegal aliens living in California has steadily increased for the last three decades. In 1990, 1.5 million illegal immigrants lived in California. By 2000 and 2010, the total reached 2.5 and 2.8 million, respectively.

Many of those immigrants live in poverty or near-poverty. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, the average household income for illegal immigrants is about $49,191. For Americans, however, it’s $68,000, a $19,000 difference. Per-person household income is similarly disparate: Americans, $28,185 versus $12,991 for aliens.

Governor Jerry Brown might like to argue that immigration is a federal responsibility beyond his scope. But that would be a tough sell since Brown presides over a sanctuary state and last year signed bills that will protect many from deportation under the Trust Act, allow aliens to become lawyers, provide financial assistance to 20,000 college-bound aliens, and will give driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants in 2015.

In September, Brown signed yet another bill that will allocate $3 million to designated nonprofits that in turn will be used to support thousands of Central American surgers who located in California. Collectively, these measures incentivize more immigration, much of it unfortunate people coming to take advantage of California’s largesse.

Instead of proclaiming that all Mexicans are welcome in California, even those who don’t have “permission,” Brown should work toward making the state more business friendly so that new jobs would be created. In May, Toyota announced that it was relocating to Texas, ranked top in business friendliness, according to a survey of 500 CEOs conducted by Chief Executive magazine. California ranks at the opposite end: at the bottom of states for excessive taxation and regulatory requirements. Before its move is complete, Toyota will eliminate about 3,000 California jobs.

California cannot afford to lose wage earners and profitable corporations while it continues to welcome more poor immigrants. That’s a formula for disaster.

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