In an op-ed this week’s LA Times . . .
Guess which state has the highest poverty rate in the country? Not Mississippi, New Mexico, or West Virginia, but California, where nearly one out of five residents is poor. That’s according to the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure, which factors in the cost of housing, food, utilities and clothing, and which includes noncash government assistance as a form of income.
Given robust job growth and the prosperity generated by several industries, it’s worth asking why California has fallen behind, especially when the state’s per-capita GDP increased approximately twice as much as the U.S. average over the five years ending in 2016 (12.5%, compared with 6.27%).
The article later goes on to describe that benefits in California are largely not means tested, leading to a substantially higher user base.
The state and local bureaucracies that implement California’s antipoverty programs, however, resisted pro-work reforms. In fact, California recipients of state aid receive a disproportionately large share of it in no-strings-attached cash disbursements. It’s as though welfare reform passed California by, leaving a dependency trap in place. Immigrants are falling into it: 55% of immigrant families in the state get some kind of means-tested benefits, compared with just 30% of natives.
Politifact went through an analysis of comments made along the same lines by a California Assemblyman and found that the statements were in fact True.
Here’s a link to the actual census report, which shows in real dollar terms that Mississippi is below California, NY and DC in terms of actual poverty rate adjusted for expenses.
Don’t hold your breath to see this analysis in any other Mississippi media outlet.