Gray Panthers of San Francisco
May, 2006 Newsletter

Poverty in California


At our April general meeting, our keynote speaker, Debbie Reed of the Public Policy Institute of California, told us the overall poverty rate in California today is almost half-again as high as it was in 1969. This rate is only slightly higher than the national average, but increases by a third when the higher cost of living is factored in.

Reed maintains that if the wealth accumulated over the last 30 years had been equably distributed, poverty would have dropped, not grown. Other contributing factors were the increased number of women entering the workforce at lower wages than men and high rates of poverty among immigrants. The highest rate of poverty is among children. Rates vary dramatically by race, education, and region—San Francisco’s poverty rate is 7% compared to 19% in the San Joaquin Valley.

Reed feels that welfare ‘reform’ worked “better than a lot of people thought it would” during the economic upswing of the 90s, but a lot less well once the economy went sour.

Reed emphasized that sound policy must create a strong social safety net of services to insure basic needs are met.

More on Deborah Reed

(back to May 2006 Newsletter front page)