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Report Shows San Diego Economy Recovering, But Many Children Still Living In Poverty

Evening Edition

Aired 9/19/13 on KPBS Midday Edition.

GUESTS:

Peter Brownell, Research Director, Center on Policy Initiatives

Murtaza Baxamusa, Ph.D., San Diego Middle Class Taxpayers Association

Transcript

Aired 9/19/13 on KPBS News.

The economic recovery might have started taking off, but according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 140,000 San Diego children lived in families with incomes below the poverty level in 2012.

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The median household income of residents in the San Diego metropolitan area held steady between 2011 and 2012, but the percentage of people living in poverty dipped slightly over the same time frame, according to data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.

According to the 2012 American Community Survey, median household income in the area was $60,330 in 2012, only a slight change from $60,699 in 2011.

The numbers were above the national median household income of $53,607 last year, and $53,545 in 2011.

The percentage of San Diego-area residents living in poverty dropped slightly from 15.1 percent in 2011 to 15 percent last year. The national poverty rate was 15.5 percent in 2012.

The survey provides a snapshot of the financial health of residents in particular areas of the country, along with statistics on education levels and immigration. Census officials said the report is aimed at giving communities data to help them plan public investment and government services.

The economic recovery might have started taking off, but the recovery was not that great for children. In fact, 142,513 San Diego County children lived in families with incomes below the federal poverty level in 2012.

Peter Brownell is the research director for the Center on Policy Initiatives. The group is dedicated to advancing economic equity for working people. Brownell concluded the number of children living in poverty actually rose last year, when compared the the year before.

"It is a huge number of children," Brownell said. "I mean, it is one in five children that are living below the federal poverty level and as many people are aware, the federal poverty level is a federal measure so it doesn't take into account the additional high cost of living of San Diego County."

The census numbers showed good news when it comes to health care: Fewer children went without health care insurance last year.

According to the report, 17 percent of area residents lacked health insurance in 2012, down from 17.4 percent the prior year.

Among the other 2012 statistics in the report for the San Diego area:

-- 49.4 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds were enrolled in school, up from 48.9 percent in 2011 and above the national rate of 48.7 percent;

-- 86.1 percent of residents 25 or older had completed high school, up from 84.9 percent the prior year but below the U.S. rate of 86.7 percent;

-- 34.8 percent of residents 25 or older had a bachelor's degree or higher, above the national rate of 31.2 percent;

-- 23.2 percent of residents were foreign-born, well above the U.S.

metro-area rate of 14.8 percent;

-- the median value of an owner-occupied home was $386,400, down from $396,500 in 2011. The U.S. median value was $188,300;

-- the median cost of rent plus utility costs was $1,253, above the national median of $925.

Erik Anderson contributed to this story

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