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Almost 20 percent of Californians live in poverty. How does SLO County stack up?

Rick Hurd, left, Makaila Currell and her fiance, Carey Vasquez, rest in the shade of a tree at the Sunken Gardens park in Atascadero in July.
Rick Hurd, left, Makaila Currell and her fiance, Carey Vasquez, rest in the shade of a tree at the Sunken Gardens park in Atascadero in July. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Nearly a fifth of San Luis Obispo County residents live in poverty — a trend that’s consistent along the Central Coast, according to a recently released study.

About 18.5 percent of county residents didn’t earn enough money to pay for necessities in 2016 — which translates to a poverty threshold of $30,875 per year for a family of four renting housing, according to the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), a nonpartisan think tank.

PPIC researchers calculated social safety net benefits and the state’s higher cost of living into the California Poverty Measure they developed with the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality. The center pooled data from 2014 to 2016 to calculate the statistics.

Official data shows 14.3 percent of California residents were living in poverty in 2016, but PPIC’s measure shows 19.4 percent of the state’s residents couldn’t afford to meet their needs.

San Luis Obispo County has the 18th highest poverty rate compared to other California counties.

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Los Angeles County is ranked No. 1 with a 24.3 percent poverty rate. El Dorado County just east of Sacramento has the lowest rate at 11.8 percent.

The Central Coast has some of the top poverty rates statewide — Santa Cruz County is ranked second with a 23.8 percent poverty rate, and Santa Barbara County is ranked third at 23 percent.

Monterey County is just ahead of San Luis Obispo County with a 19.3 percent poverty rate.

Although the Central Valley is known for its low cost of living, Fresno and Tulare counties also have high rates of poverty at 19.6 percent and 20.3 percent, respectively.

Lindsey Holden: 805-781-7939, @lindseymholden
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