The Public Policy Institute of California and Stanford University adjusted federal poverty statistics for the state’s high cost-of-living and also factored in help from safety net programs, such as food stamps.
"I was surprised that we didn’t see more improvement just knowing how much better the labor market is doing and how widespread that is," says researcher Sarah Bohn. "But poverty rates are still stubbornly high."
The study found more than a fifth of Californians, and nearly a quarter of children, lived in poverty in 2013. That’s about 2 percent lower than researchers found in 2011.
Most working-age families living in poverty, 78 percent, have at least one employed adult, according to the report.
"Conventional wisdom does seem to think that poor families and those accessing safety net benefits are not working," Bohn says. "And I think you see a really different picture."
Bohn says the study did not try to analyze the dollar-for-dollar efficacy of those safety net programs.
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