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August 2007

Based on 2006 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, CPI  analyzed regional data to develop a picture of poverty and income in San Diego County. The full CPI analysis is available here.

In real dollars, full-time workers in San Diego County made significantly less in 2006 than the previous year, according to the census data. Over 100,000 workers in the county live in poverty.

While workers’ earnings dropped by an inflation-adjusted average of 4%, the median household income rose slightly. The median — the halfway mark among all household incomes — was pulled up by more people working and higher incomes among the wealthy.

The new data shows a wide gap in income distribution between rich and poor, with the top 20% of households claiming half (49%) of all income in the county while households in the lowest-earning fifth of the population got less than a 4% sliver of the pie.

There were 331,370 people living below the federal poverty line in the county in 2006, a poverty rate of 11.7%.That put the county very close to national poverty rate of 12.3%, using a static measurement that does not take into account differences in the cost of living.

The Census data provide a more complete picture of poverty than the county’s 2005 rate of 11%, because the 2006 Census report for the first time included residents of group quarters such as dormitories, military barracks, and nursing homes.

National analysis of the data is also available from the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, at (202) 775-8810 or