In 2012, the median California household had an income of $ 57,020. This is a 4.7% increase, in real terms, from the previous year. At the same time, the nation’s median income remained unchanged at $ 51,017 (it dropped by 0.2% between 2011 and 2012). Historically, California’s median household income has been higher than the nation’s and has declined more during recessions. California’s median household income is down 9.5% from an inflation-adjusted peak of $62,998 in 2006; income for the median American household declined 7.1% over the same period.
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 $50,399 higher than those headed by a high school graduate.
According to the latest data available, California’s poverty rate was 15.9% in 2012. This amounts to more 6 million Californians living with incomes below the poverty line (about $23,500 for a family of four). California typically has a higher poverty rate than the rest of the nation. As of 2012, California poverty rate was 0.9 percentage points higher than the national rate.
Child poverty is higher than the poverty rate for other age groups. By 2012, 2.1 million (22.5%) of California children under 18 lived in poverty. This represents a 2 percentage point decrease from a year earlier. However, relative to pre-recession levels, child poverty in California is 4.6 percentage points higher. Poverty varies considerably with race/ethnicity and education level. Poverty rates among Latinos (23.8%) and African Americans (26.1%) are 2.5 and 2.8 times higher than the 9.4% rate for both whites and Asians. The poverty rate among households headed by an adult lacking a high school diploma is 22 points higher than that of households headed by a college degree holder.