September 2010

More than 100,000 San Diego County residents fell from the middle class into poverty or severe economic hardship over the past two years, while the wealthiest fifth of earners continued to receive almost half of all income generated in the County.

US Census data released today reinforce the desperate need for good jobs that pay living wages, a CPI analysis shows.  Almost half the adults living in extreme poverty in 2009 were working full- or part-time, and families with children were particularly hard hit.

The county’s poverty rate rose to 12.6% in 2009 — from 11.1% in 2007, before the recession. The rate was 14.3% for the city of San Diego.

Of the 374,000 county residents living below the federal poverty line, more than 121,000 were children — a staggering 17% childhood poverty rate.

“The increase in poverty means hard-working people have watched their dreams slip away,” said Murtaza Baxamusa, CPI Deputy Director.  “It is crucial that governments at all levels do whatever they can to create good, middle-class jobs.”

The top fifth of households with the highest incomes claimed 49% of all income in the region, while the bottom fifth of households got only 4% of the pie.

Median individual income in the county dropped to $31,271 in 2009, and median household income fell to $60,231.

The median monthly housing costs for mortgaged owners was $2,424, nonmortgaged owners $454, and renters $1,226.  More than half of county residents (54% with mortgages and 59% of renters) spend more than 30% of their household income on housing, which is the national definition for unaffordable housing.

The US Census Bureau released the county-specific data this morning from its annual survey of households and individuals. Data from the same survey reported two weeks ago showed that the national poverty rate rose to 14.3% in 2009, adding 3.7 million people to the ranks of the poor since 2008.

The federal poverty threshold is determined by household size and a national estimate of the cost of living. In 2009 it was $10,956 for an individual, $21,954 for a family of four, and so on up to $44,366 for nine or more people.  The Census Bureau also reports how many people live in households with incomes double the poverty line, a level considered economic hardship, especially in high-cost cities like San Diego.

In 2009, almost 890,000 San Diego County residents — 30% of the population — lived below the 200% FPL level. For a family of four, that’s a total household income of less than $43,908.

More than 209,000 working-age people in San Diego County had no health coverage of any kind.

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