LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — One in four children and more than three million Southern California residents live in poverty, according to government data.

KNX 1070’s Vytas Safronikas reports U.S. Census Bureau data shows 3.2 million people in the region were living in poverty in 2012, up from 1.9 million in 1990 — a 69 percent increase at a rate nearly three times the population growth rate during that period.

The data was among the findings presented Thursday at the Southern California Association of Governments‘ 4th Annual Economic Recovery & Job Creation Summit at the Omni Los Angeles Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

About 18 percent of residents in Southern California live in poverty, but numbers are higher in Imperial (23 percent) and San Bernardino (20 percent) counties, according to SCAG.

Poverty status is determined at the federal level by the U.S. Census Bureau, which compares households’ average income against a minimum threshold of basic living needs, according to SCAG. It does not factor in variations in cost of living.

According to Census data, poverty rates for working residents without a high school diploma are about 26 percent in the SCAG region – 60 percent higher than for those with a diploma.

SCAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata warned those numbers don’t even factor in the high cost of living in the Southland.

“This is a problem that is not going away on its own,” Ikhrata said. “Fixing it is an urgent priority requiring collaboration unlike anything we’ve ever seen at the local, regional and state level.”

About 800,000 people are still out of work in the six-county SCAG region, according to Ikhrata.

The summit, which was moderated by KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO business anchor Frank Mottek, also featured a keynote speech by Darrell Steinberg, President pro Tempore of the California State Senate, as well as region-wide and county-by-county economic forecasts.


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