Created: Thu, 19 Sep 2013 12:17:00 PST
Updated: Thu, 19 Sep 2013 12:42:29 PST
The country's economic recovery bypassed most households in San Diego County, according to a report issued by the Center on Policy Initiatives Thursday.
The agency reviewed data from the 2012 U.S. Census Bureau report and found that 20 percent of San Diego's top-earning households took in half of all of the income for the entire region.
Many people employed in the county remained in poverty five years after the recession began, the agency reported. The data shows that the real median income for all household dropped by $1,231 from 2011, which CPI researchers say led to a loss of buying power for the region's middle-class.
"People have less money to spend, even those working full-time," said CPI Research Director Peter Brownell. "The wealthiest saw their incomes increase in 2012, but when we hear talk of economic recovery, it hasn't reached most people in our region."
Other CPI Key Findings:
• More than a quarter (28.4%) of all individuals working full-time, year-round earned less than $30,000, roughly the amount needed for a single person to live self-sufficiently in San Diego County. More than 123,000 full-time or part-time employees fell below the federal poverty level ($11,945 a year for an individual).
• The poverty rate in the county was virtually unchanged at 15% (from 15.1% in 2011), much higher than the pre-recession level of 11.1%. The rate of children living in poverty jumped to 19.8%.
• Besides children, groups hit hardest by poverty – with rates of 20% or higher – included African Americans, Latinos, and the cities of El Cajon, San Marcos and Escondido.
• More than 1 million San Diego County residents, a third of the population, lived in economic hardship, at or below double the poverty rate. That measure is used because the federal poverty level, which varies by family size, is unrealistically low compared to costs of living.
"Clearly, the economy can't recover for most people until wages are high enough that our neighbors can support themselves and spend money in the local community," Brownell said. "Poverty and low wages drag down the entire region, as these data show. The recent vote to increase California’s minimum wage to $10 an hour is a welcome first step, but too little and too slow. "
The CPI analysis of the regional data is available at www.onlineCPI.org.