California’s median household income was $53,367 in 2011, according to the latest data available. This is a 4.7% decrease, in real terms, from the previous year. Over the same time, the nation’s median income dropped by only 1.5%. Historically, California’s median household income has been higher than the nation’s, and it declined more in recessions.
California has a larger share of upper-income households than does the nation as a whole. Across racial and ethnic groups, the median income in California was highest among Asians. Across education levels, households headed by an adult with a college degree had a median income about $41,500 higher than those headed by a high school graduate.
In 2011—the latest data available—16.9% of Californians had incomes below the poverty line. This is 1.9 percentage points higher than the national rate.
Children have been the most affected: their poverty rate increased 6 points between 2007 and 2011. The poverty rate for Latinos and African Americans is 2.5 and 2.9 times higher than that of whites, respectively. The poverty rate for households with no adult high school graduates is 21 points higher than that of households with at least one college graduate.