Trickle Down Effect

New census data shows about 160,000 more Californians tumbled below the poverty line. Unfortunately, this isn’t the whole story. The San Jose Mercury News reports:

California and a few other states stood out in one area — while the number of people in poverty grew, the number of Californians just above the federal poverty threshold shrank, perhaps indicating that many low-wage workers lost ground as the recession took hold, experts said.

“They are stressed, and any kind of change in their circumstances is likely to lead them into poverty,” Johnson said.

The stresses are even tougher on Silicon Valley residents than the federal poverty levels indicate because of the high cost of living here.

Many poverty advocates say the federal poverty threshold, a one-size-fits-all definition that covers the entire United States, has much less relevance in places with a high cost of living like Santa Clara County. The federal poverty threshold for a single parent with two children was $17,346 in 2008.

“It’s an absolutely ridiculous number for anywhere where the cost of living is like it is here,” said Carole Leigh Hutton, president and CEO of United Way Silicon Valley.

According to this post, income disparities are greatest in larger cities, including San Francisco, Washington, New York, and Chicago.

Families are just trying to survive. They might not be “mainstream” enough for the 10 O’Clock news, but they are here.