A deepening social crisis plagues the US state of California, a reflection of a broader national crisis more than five years after the economic crash of 2008.
According to the US Census Bureau's Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), updated last month, a shocking 8.9 million people in the state live in poverty, more than twice as many as in any other state in the country. Nearly a quarter (23.8 percent) of all Californians live in poverty based on this measures, which is designed to create a more accurate picture of poverty than the official poverty statistics.
The current official poverty measure, which has changed little since its adoption in 1963, is calculated at three times the cost of minimum food purchases. SPM, by contrast, calculates the poverty threshold based on a basic set of goods including food, shelter, clothing and utilities, along with a small additional amount for other expenses. The measure also allows for geographical variations. It does not take into account other significant expenditures, including medical costs, retirement saving and debt servicing.
On a national level, 46.7 million individuals were in poverty in 2012 using the official measure, while 49.4 million were considered to be in poverty using the supplemental measure. In California, 6.2 million were officially poor, compared to the 8.9 million based on the SPM.