California is an expensive place to live, and the states lofty poverty levels as revealed by several measurements certainly reinforces the pain of heavy cost burdens.

But one should also note the states noteworthy and broad economic revival from the Great Recession has significantly trimmed the ranks of the impoverished by those same metrics.

Take the federal governments so-called “supplemental” poverty rate — demographic math that includes regional variances in the cost of living and government assistance. Its the yardstick that shows California has the nations highest rate of poverty among its populace.

The latest report shows 997,000 fewer Californians were living below the poverty line in the 2014-2016 period vs. the 2010-2012 period at the Great Recessions end.

Let my trusty spreadsheet put that improvement into perspective …

1. Yes, 8 million Californians still were defined by this metric as living in poverty in 2014-2016. No state had more. And, sadly, thats slightly more than No. 2 and No. 3 combined: Texas and Florida.

2. California was one of only 33 states with declining poverty counts in this four-year, post-recession period. Virginia (up 175,000) and Florida (up 70,000) had the biggest increases in supplemental poverty counts.

3. Californias decline in impoverished residents amounted to a 12.5 percent drop, 13th largest dip among the states and twice the nationwide rate of decline.

4. The states recent reduction in its supplemental poverty count was equal to 38 percent of the 2.6 million Americans lifted out of poverty in this timeframe. Remember: California has 13 percent of the nations population.

5. The four-year drop in impoverished Californians lowered the states supplemental poverty rate to 20.4 percent from 23.8 percent in 2010-2012. Yes, both are national highs.

6. Californias 3.4 percentage-point decline was the second-largest drop in the nation behind Nevadas 5-point drop to 14.8 percent.

7. When looking at the “traditional” government poverty measure — a metric that does not account for regional cost differences — during the same period, Californias count of impoverished fell by 531,000 — a 9 percent drop — to 5.7 million. Californias latest 14.5 percent poverty rate by this traditional math ranked 16th highest among the states.

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8. The Public Policy Institute of California think tanks calculations also show California poverty falling between 2011 and 2015 by some 600,000 to 7.5 million.

All this numerology aside, the poverty levels show plenty of work is still required to moderate the states cost of living and narrow the California wealth gap.

But lets note progress, too. Hundreds of thousands of Californians lifted out of poverty — statistically speaking — isnt too shabby.


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