Poverty in CA: Central Valley Metro Areas Ranked Among the Poorest in the Nation

The Central Valley area contains three metropolitan areas with some of the highest percentage of residents living below the poverty line in the entire country. Specifically, Fresno, Modesto and Bakersfield-Delano are in the top 5. Within the borders of Fresno County are the most impoverished people in the state of California, according to 2011 U.S. Census Bureau data that has just been released. One in four people live at or below the poverty line in the county’s metro areas—a stat that is yet another sign that the Central Valley has been particularly hard hit by the recession and continues to struggle with economic recovery. The only other place in the nation that has a higher poverty rate is McAllen, Texas where nearly 38% of people are impoverished.
Fresno County’s unemployment rate has been far higher than the national average and last year it was 16%. The Fresno Bee notes that “This absence of economic progress, coupled with the fallout of the recent recession, has left Fresno with a fourth straight year of rising unemployment and a second year of falling incomes.” Economists fear the region will continue to struggle due to an inability to attract major high-growth sectors in the California economy and a lack of diversity in the types of jobs available since the region is an agricultural powerhouse.
However, the AP notes that “The valley's poverty rate is high even though its agricultural productivity is soaring. California is home to a $35 billion agricultural industry and Fresno County produces more than $5.6 billion in agricultural products.” More coverage here.

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