Poorest Cities In California For 2021


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

Join RoadSnacks
Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the poorest places in California.

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.

Here are the ten poorest places in California for 2021:

  1. Mendota
  2. Orange Cove
  3. Huron
  4. Lindsay
  5. Clearlake
  6. Calipatria
  7. Firebaugh
  8. McFarland
  9. Brawley
  10. Arcata

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.

What's the poorst city in California? According to the facts, Mendota is the poorest place in California for 2021.

Rich people more your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the best 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.

If you're looking for something more national, check out the poorest states in America or the poorest cities in America.

For more California reading, check out:

The 10 Poorest Cities In California For 2021

1. Mendota

Mendota, CA

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 11,531
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $31,237 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 19.2% (3rd highest)
Poverty Rate: 40.9% (3rd highest)
More on Mendota:  Data | Photos

Mendota, unfortunately, ranks as the poorest place in California thanks to combination of low pay and and a lack of jobs.

The city of 11,531 people averages the 3rd lowest median household income in California and the 3rd 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. Orange Cove

Orange Cove, CA

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 10,274
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $25,677 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 14.7% (10th highest)
Poverty Rate: 48.3% (highest)
More on Orange Cove:  Data | Photos

The second poorest city in California is Orange Cove.

The city ranks as having the highest incidence of poverty and 2nd lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate 'only' ranks as the 10th highest in the Golden State.

3. Huron

Huron, CA

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 7,115
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Income: $25,060 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 14.4% (11th highest)
Poverty Rate: 45.7% (2nd highest)
More on Huron:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, Huron's median income ranks as the 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 45.69219957835558% 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. Lindsay

Lindsay, CA

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 13,310
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 2)
Median Income: $31,489 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 16.0% (8th highest)
Poverty Rate: 35.8% (6th highest)
More on Lindsay:  Data | Photos

Lindsay ranks as the fourth poorest place in California.

The town ranks as having the 5th lowest median household income and the 6th 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. Clearlake

Clearlake, CA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 15,349
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 1)
Median Income: $31,551 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 18.4% (5th highest)
Poverty Rate: 33.0% (12th highest)
More on Clearlake:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in California is Clearlake.

The city ranks as having the 6th 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 12th highest in California.

Still not the best news for Clearlake.

6. Calipatria

Calipatria, CA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 7,395
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 1)
Median Income: $36,883 (15th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 20.4% (2nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 33.3% (11th highest)
More on Calipatria:  Data | Photos

Calipatria ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Golden State.

It ranks as having the 11th highest incidence of poverty and the 2nd highest unemployment rate.

7. Firebaugh

Firebaugh, CA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 8,300
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 5)
Median Income: $35,616 (14th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 23.7% (highest)
Poverty Rate: 29.0% (2highest)
More on Firebaugh:  Data | Photos

Firebaugh places as the seventh poorest city in California.

The city of over 8,300 ranks as having the 2highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.

8. Mcfarland

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 14,823
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 1)
Median Income: $35,346 (12th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 13.4% (14th highest)
Poverty Rate: 32.4% (13th highest)
More on Mcfarland:  Data

McFarland ranks as the eighth poorest city in California.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 14th highest in the state.

9. Brawley

Brawley, CA

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 26,076
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 4)
Median Income: $42,326 (28th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 18.0% (6th highest)
Poverty Rate: 33.8% (9th highest)
More on Brawley:  Data | Photos

Brawley couldn't stay out of the top ten poorest places in California; it ranks number 9.

While the median income is the 28th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Brawley ranks as having the 9th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in California.

10. Arcata

Arcata, CA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 18,178
Rank Last Year: 10 (No Change)
Median Income: $35,506 (13th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 11.7% (30th highest)
Poverty Rate: 38.0% (4th highest)
More on Arcata:  Data | Photos

And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in California is Arcata.

The city of 18,178 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Golden State.

How We Determined The Poorest Places In California for 2021

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 2015-2019 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 2021". You can download the data here.

There You Have It - The Poorest Places In California For 2021

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: Hillsborough
    2nd Richest: Tiburon
    3rd Richest: Westlake Village

For more California reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In California

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 Mendota 11,531 40.9%
2 Orange Cove 10,274 48.3%
3 Huron 7,115 45.7%
4 Lindsay 13,310 35.8%
5 Clearlake 15,349 33.0%
6 Calipatria 7,395 33.3%
7 Firebaugh 8,300 29.0%
8 Mcfarland 14,823 32.4%
9 Brawley 26,076 33.8%
10 Arcata 18,178 38.0%
11 Avenal 12,961 36.1%
12 Red Bluff 14,264 30.3%
13 Farmersville 10,716 28.9%
14 Desert Hot Springs 28,585 31.1%
15 Corcoran 22,156 30.7%
16 Coachella 45,181 21.8%
17 Barstow 23,899 35.3%
18 Arvin 21,249 30.0%
19 Exeter 10,474 27.6%
20 Porterville 59,697 27.5%
21 Merced 82,662 29.3%
22 Adelanto 33,660 28.5%
23 Calexico 39,946 22.8%
24 Hemet 84,542 21.2%
25 Holtville 6,527 25.1%
26 Dinuba 24,015 26.4%
27 Oroville 19,393 25.5%
28 Corning 7,590 25.8%
29 California City 13,826 24.1%
30 Delano 52,886 22.6%
31 Wasco 27,193 21.5%
32 El Centro 44,003 24.8%
33 Madera 64,833 26.8%
34 Twentynine Palms 26,147 22.7%
35 Reedley 25,591 21.1%
36 Yucca Valley 21,622 20.9%
37 San Bernardino 216,089 26.0%
38 Banning 31,072 20.6%
39 Huntington Park 58,353 23.6%
40 Woodlake 7,622 35.6%
41 Bell Gardens 42,421 28.3%
42 Shafter 19,447 23.0%
43 Parlier 15,312 33.7%
44 Cudahy 23,890 26.2%
45 Fresno 525,010 25.2%
46 Blythe 19,643 25.5%
47 Crescent City 6,676 26.8%
48 Grass Valley 12,891 20.6%
49 Maywood 27,332 24.0%
50 Victorville 121,902 20.1%
51 Ukiah 15,943 19.4%
52 Selma 24,675 24.4%
53 Compton 96,803 20.5%
54 Bell 35,682 24.0%
55 Kerman 14,816 20.0%
56 Hesperia 94,203 19.9%
57 Willows 6,013 19.7%
58 Atwater 29,296 20.7%
59 Fort Bragg 7,302 19.4%
60 Eureka 26,966 20.0%
61 Chico 94,529 23.2%
62 South Gate 94,642 17.2%
63 San Jacinto 47,989 17.1%
64 Imperial Beach 27,315 18.9%
65 Apple Valley 72,726 17.3%
66 Yreka 7,562 22.1%
67 Marysville 12,327 19.7%
68 Lynwood 70,635 17.8%
69 Lompoc 43,232 17.3%
70 Palm Springs 47,897 17.3%
71 Los Banos 38,914 18.0%
72 Stockton 309,228 17.9%
73 Orland 7,622 25.8%
74 El Cajon 103,186 19.3%
75 Indio 89,469 16.5%
76 Fortuna 12,210 16.9%
77 Sanger 25,074 26.7%
78 Waterford 8,877 19.5%
79 Cathedral City 54,357 20.1%
80 Ceres 48,214 15.1%
81 Dos Palos 5,351 14.7%
82 Chowchilla 18,413 20.2%
83 National City 61,121 18.3%
84 Inglewood 109,613 16.8%
85 Rialto 103,045 16.2%
86 Tulare 63,547 20.2%
87 Coalinga 16,906 20.6%
88 El Monte 115,517 19.5%
89 Yuba City 66,516 15.5%
90 Shasta Lake 10,206 18.7%
91 Live Oak 8,679 19.9%
92 Lancaster 159,028 21.7%
93 Gustine 5,813 12.7%
94 Hawaiian Gardens 14,337 23.9%
95 Bakersfield 377,917 17.4%
96 Modesto 212,616 15.2%
97 Taft 9,372 28.0%
98 Highland 55,049 17.9%
99 Livingston 14,228 16.4%
100 San Pablo 30,967 16.3%

How Is The Area In ?

One thought on “Poorest Cities In California For 2021

  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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *