These Are The 10 Poorest Cities In California For 2018


We used science and data to determine which places in California are basically dead broke.

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California brings to mind images of Sacramento, beautiful landscapes, and some of the best people you’ll find in the good ole US of A.

However, like all states, California has certain places that are going on hard times. These places have an above average percent of people that are living in poverty, out of work, or not making as much as they should be.

With all the talk about income inequality going on around the country, we thought it prudent to take a look at the places in each state that are struggling to make it even as the economy continues to improve. So we set our sites on bringing attention to the places in California that could use a helping hand.

To do so, we analyzed the newest Census data from the American Community Survey for the 427 places in California with more than 5,000 people.

We were left with this set of the ten poorest places in the Golden State for 2018:

  1. Mendota (Photos)
  2. Adelanto (Photos)
  3. Clearlake
  4. Orange Cove (Photos)
  5. Corning (Photos)
  6. Arcata (Photos)
  7. Mcfarland
  8. Parlier
  9. Calipatria (Photos)
  10. Woodlake

Again, this isn’t a commentary on the people that live there or the vibrant culture and traditions of these places. Instead, it’s just a look at the facts.

And according to the facts, Mendota is the poorest place in California for 2018.

Rich people not your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the richest places in California or the most dangerous.

For more on how we calculated the top ten, and for more information about these places, read on.

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How We Determined The Poorest Places In California For 2018

The first thing that comes to most people’s minds when they think about determining the poorest places is to simply the poverty rate. That is, the number of people living below a federally established level of income for a household of a certain size.

However, we don’t think that one statistic wholly encompasses what it means to be one of the ‘poorest places’. So we looked at this set of criteria from the newly released 2012-2016 American Community Survey:

  • Poverty Level
  • Median Household Income adjusted for the cost of living
  • Unemployment Rate

The ‘median household income adjusted for the cost of living’ attempts to gauge how expensive it is to live in a place and how that impacts the quality of life. For example, a town might have fewer people living below the official poverty line, but the cost of living is so high they’d still feel poor.

The unemployment rate tries to capture the prospects for improvement in the city or town. If more people are employed, the brighter the future looks and vice versa.

After we collected the data for all 427 places with more than 5,000 people in California, we ranked each place from 1 to 427 for each of the criteria, with 1 being the poorest.

We then averaged all the rankings for a place into a ‘Poor Score’ with the place having the lowest overall Poor Score, Mendota, crowned the ‘Poorest Place In California For 2018’.

You can learn more about the top ten below or skip to the end to see the rankings for all 427 places.

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1. Mendota

Mendota, California

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 11,394
Median Income: $26,094
Unemployment Rate: 26.8%
Poverty Rate: 49.5%
Mendota, unfortunately, ranks as the poorest place in California thanks to combination of low pay and and a lack of jobs.

The city of 11,394 people averages the 3rd lowest median household income in California and the 2nd highest poverty rate. At the very least, the cost of living ranks in the bottom 15% of place in the state, so things like housing are relatively affordable.

2. Adelanto

Adelanto, California

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 32,311
Median Income: $29,647
Unemployment Rate: 22.0%
Poverty Rate: 42.2%
The second poorest city in California is Adelanto.

The city ranks as having the 4th highest incidence of poverty and 7th lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate ‘only’ ranks as the 3rd highest in the Golden State.

3. Clearlake

Clearlake, California

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 15,070
Median Income: $25,426
Unemployment Rate: 19.5%
Poverty Rate: 38.1%
Placing as the third poorest city, Clearlake’s median income ranks as the 2nd lowest.

And that’s a sign that there’s a relatively substantial jump in the quality of the economy from second to third place on our list. The poverty rate is 38.1% and ranks near the bottom of places in the state.

But what makes up for the relatively low incomes of the city is its low cost of living. The income you do make here goes further than in most parts of the Golden State.

4. Orange Cove

Orange Cove, California

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 9,566
Median Income: $27,782
Unemployment Rate: 17.9%
Poverty Rate: 51.6%
Orange Cove ranks as the fourth poorest place in California.

The town ranks as having the 5th lowest median household income and the 1st highest incidence of poverty in the state.

That being said, there’s still a ton of cultural diversity in the city as it hosts many events throughout the year.

5. Corning

Corning, California

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 7,548
Median Income: $31,333
Unemployment Rate: 21.8%
Poverty Rate: 38.8%
The fifth poorest city in California is Corning.

The city ranks as having the 13th lowest median income in the state. However, an extremely low cost of living prevents a good number of folks from living in poverty as the poverty rate only ranks as the 7th highest in California.

Still not the best news for Corning.

6. Arcata

Arcata, California

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 17,775
Median Income: $31,180
Unemployment Rate: 16.4%
Poverty Rate: 40.1%
Arcata ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Golden State.

It ranks as having the 5th highest incidence of poverty and the 20th highest unemployment rate.

7. Mcfarland


Population: 13,391
Median Income: $33,687
Unemployment Rate: 17.5%
Poverty Rate: 37.7%
McFarland places as the seventh poorest city in California.

The city of over 13,391 ranks as having the 10th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.

8. Parlier

Parlier, California

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 14,953
Median Income: $30,556
Unemployment Rate: 14.5%
Poverty Rate: 43.9%
Parlier ranks as the eighth poorest city in California.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 33rd highest in the state.

9. Calipatria

Calipatria, California

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 7,511
Median Income: $34,800
Unemployment Rate: 17.4%
Poverty Rate: 33.5%
Calipatria couldn’t stay out of the top ten poorest places in California; it ranks number 9.

While the median income is the 19th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Calipatria ranks as having the 15th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in California.

10. Woodlake


Population: 7,567
Median Income: $34,583
Unemployment Rate: 15.8%
Poverty Rate: 33.2%
And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in California is Woodlake.

The city of 7,567 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Golden State.

There You Have It – The Poorest Places In California For 2018

Like we said earlier, when we set out to identify the poorest places in California, we weren’t sure what we’d encounter, but it ended up being some of the best places to live in California.

When you look at the data, the cities and places mentioned above meet the criteria for being at the very bottom of the income ladder for everyone that lives there.

If you’re curious enough, here are the richest cities in California, according to data:

Richest: Los Altos
2nd Richest: Mill Valley
3rd Richest: Los Altos Hills

For more California reading , check out:

  • These Are The 10 Safest Places In California
  • These Are The 10 Most Ghetto Cities In California
  • These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In California
  • Detailed List Of The Poorest Cities In California

    City Rank Poverty Rate
    Mendota 1 49.5%
    Adelanto 2 42.2%
    Clearlake 3 38.1%
    Orange Cove 4 51.6%
    Corning 5 38.8%
    Arcata 6 40.1%
    Mcfarland 7 37.7%
    Parlier 8 43.9%
    Calipatria 9 33.5%
    Woodlake 10 33.2%
    Yreka 11 31.2%
    Corcoran 12 36.2%
    Holtville 13 32.5%
    Dos Palos 14 28.9%
    Calexico 15 26.3%
    Firebaugh 16 36.8%
    Coachella 17 30.1%
    Barstow 18 36.7%
    Avenal 19 32.8%
    Merced 20 30.6%
    Delano 21 29.2%
    Wasco 22 29.5%
    Farmersville 23 29.4%
    Hemet 24 24.4%
    San Bernardino 25 32.3%
    Brawley 26 28.5%
    Dinuba 27 26.7%
    Desert Hot Springs 28 33.9%
    Arvin 29 28.4%
    Red Bluff 30 24.6%
    Lindsay 31 37.8%
    Cudahy 32 30.4%
    Reedley 33 26.6%
    Ukiah 34 22.8%
    Oroville 35 25.6%
    El Centro 36 24.8%
    Huron 37 39.0%
    Orland 38 26.0%
    Huntington Park 39 28.9%
    Fresno 40 30.0%
    California City 41 26.3%
    Porterville 42 31.7%
    Grass Valley 43 25.5%
    Twentynine Palms 44 21.6%
    Hawaiian Gardens 45 29.6%
    Sanger 46 28.3%
    Victorville 47 25.0%
    Marysville 48 25.1%
    Banning 49 23.2%
    Bell Gardens 50 29.4%
    Compton 51 25.5%
    Blythe 52 23.7%
    Bell 53 25.3%
    Shafter 54 23.5%
    Waterford 55 24.0%
    Hesperia 56 24.8%
    Gridley 57 22.7%
    Los Banos 58 22.9%
    Yucca Valley 59 22.0%
    Stockton 60 23.7%
    Atwater 61 23.4%
    Chowchilla 62 31.4%
    Maywood 63 26.9%
    Selma 64 23.1%
    El Cajon 65 24.1%
    Inglewood 66 20.7%
    Anderson 67 21.7%
    Perris 68 23.6%
    Gustine 69 14.7%
    Live Oak 70 23.9%
    Kerman 71 24.9%
    Susanville 72 22.8%
    Lynwood 73 24.3%
    Newman 74 18.6%
    South Gate 75 20.3%
    Placerville 76 21.2%
    Eureka 77 23.4%
    Apple Valley 78 19.8%
    Lompoc 79 20.2%
    King City 80 25.4%
    National City 81 24.1%
    Greenfield 82 25.5%
    Cathedral City 83 21.8%
    Chico 84 25.2%
    El Monte 85 23.8%
    Exeter 86 25.3%
    San Jacinto 87 18.4%
    Ceres 88 16.7%
    Patterson 89 20.1%
    Coalinga 90 23.7%
    San Pablo 91 21.0%
    Modesto 92 18.2%
    Calimesa 93 16.3%
    Fowler 94 23.9%
    Rialto 95 18.8%
    Crescent City 96 29.1%
    Pomona 97 21.5%
    Palm Springs 98 19.4%
    Imperial Beach 99 19.5%
    Lancaster 100 24.2%

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    One thought on “These Are The 10 Poorest Cities In California For 2018

    1. Blythe is more poor than Coachella they don’t even have a place to shop for clothes. All they have is a Albertsons and RiteAid. Coachella is next to multiple other towns not even far they don’t even have to go on a Freeway just down some roads.

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