Nearly one in four California children in poverty, Census Bureau says

California’s poverty rate was 16.9 percent in 2011, the highest it has been in 15 years, according to numbers released by the US Census Bureau Wednesday.

Nearly one in four California children lives in poverty, the report said. More than a third of Californians living below the poverty level are age 18 or younger.

The increase in the poverty rate between 2010 and 2011 was not statistically significant, but since 2006, the rate has increased by 4.7 percentage points from 12.2 percent. The last time it was as high as it was in 2011 was 1996, when the state was still recovering from an early 1990s recession and just prior to the high-tech boom that improved economic conditions across the board in California.

To be classified as poor in 2011, a family of two adults and two children would have had to make less than $22,811. That is a national figure, and many advocates believe it understates the poverty level in California because of the state’s high cost of living.

Separately, the Census Bureau reported that 19.6 percent of Californians were uninsured at some point during 2010 and 2011. That means that about 7.3 million Californians were without insurance at some point during that period.

–Daniel Weintraub

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