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Economy

Study: 12% Of North County Residents Live In Poverty

This chart compares poverty rates in North County cities before and after the economic downturn.
Center on Policy Initiatives
This chart compares poverty rates in North County cities before and after the economic downturn.

A study released Tuesday shows about 12 percent of people in San Diego’s North County live on incomes below the federal poverty level.

The report by the Center on Policy Initiatives is based on 2015 data from the Census Bureau released this year.

The region covered includes six cities and the unincorporated areas of Rancho Santa Fe and Fairbanks Ranch.

The median household income in 2015 varied widely by city: For example, it was $101,000 a year in Encinitas and $54,000 in Escondido.

This chart compares the median household income in San Diego County before and after the economic downturn.
Center on Policy Initiatives
This chart compares the median household income in San Diego County before and after the economic downturn.

On the other end of the economic spectrum, about 5 percent of Carlsbad residents live below the federal poverty level, while in Oceanside, Escondido and San Marcos about 15 percent live below the poverty level. In Vista, it’s almost 20 percent.

For comparison, 15.7 percent of San Diego residents live in poverty.

In actual dollars, the federal poverty level is $24,300 for a family of four.

Center on Policy Initiatives researcher Peter Brownell said even those earning twice the federal poverty level have a hard time making ends meet in San Diego County.

“There’s 232,000 people living in North County in what we call economic hardship,“ Brownell said. “It’s quite concerning to us that over 27 percent of the population in North County is struggling to get by.”

That’s just a little better than the county as a whole, where 31 percent of residents live on less than twice the poverty level. Brownell said the findings point to a need for improved social services in the area.

Although Vista has the highest poverty level of the North County cities — 19.2 percent — the city with the biggest increase in poverty since before the economic downturn is Oceanside, where the poverty rate has doubled in eight years. Median household income in Oceanside also fell the most since 2007.

Poverty rates among children are twice that of poverty rates among seniors, which reflects the situation countywide. Vista has by far the highest child poverty rate: 31 percent.

The same racial and ethnic trends that show up in the rest of the county affect North County, but accentuated. The poverty rates for whites is lower in North County than in San Diego County overall, while the share of Latinos, blacks and Asians living in poverty in North County is slightly higher than in San Diego County as a whole.

This chart compares poverty rates by race and ethnicity in North County and San Diego County.
Center on Policy Initiatives
This chart compares poverty rates by race and ethnicity in North County and San Diego County.

House prices tend to be higher in North County, so more people find themselves spending more than 30 percent of their income on keeping a roof over their heads. In the city of San Diego, 55 percent are in that position, while in the North County region it is 58 percent, according to the census figures.

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