Income in greater Los Angeles is rising – slightly - according to new American Community Survey numbers released Thursday from the Census Bureau, but greater L.A. still ranks as one of the poorest major metropolitan areas in the nation.
The L.A. area (defined as L.A., Long Beach and Anaheim) had a median household income of $58,869 last year, which is $804 more than the year before, but still $1540 under the 2010 level, during the first full year after the recession.
"These numbers paint a bleak picture for California,” said Marybeth Mattingly, a researcher at Stanford University’s Center on Poverty and Inequality.
Mattingly is particularly troubled by the child poverty rate, which was 25.3 percent in 2013, up from 22.6 percent in 2010.
“In the West, Hispanics have the highest poverty with nearly one in three Hispanic kids poor, and it's even a little higher for blacks” she said.
Nationally, last year was the second straight year the poverty rate stayed flat after four years of going up. Among big metro areas, the L.A. area had the highest poverty rate in the nation, tying Phoenix, Miami, and the Inland Empire. But that’s based upon a national poverty line of $23,550 for a family of four; When you take into account how much it really costs to live here, L.A. fares even worse.
“We find that Los Angeles stands out even more, unfortunately," said Sarah Bohn, a researcher at the Public Policy Institute of California. "Housing costs are really playing a big role in family budgets and being able to make ends meet.”
Bohn says these new numbers suggest we’re going in the right direction, but she wishes we’d move at a faster pace.