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Why does California have the nation’s highest poverty rate?

With all the recent hoopla about California’s record-low unemployment rate and the heady prospect of its becoming No. 5 in global economic rankings, it is easy to lose sight of another salient fact: It is the nation’s most poverty-stricken state.

So says the U.S. Census Bureau in its “supplemental measure” of poverty, which is more accurate than the traditional measure because it takes into account not only income, but living costs.

By that measure, just over 20 percent of Californians are living in poverty. The…


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