These Are The 10 Poorest Cities In California For 2019


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

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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 2019. This is our fourth time ranking the poorest places in California.

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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 2019:

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

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 2019.

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.

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:

How We Determined The Poorest Places In California for 2019

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 2013-2017 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 2019”.

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

Mendota, CA

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 11,396
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $27,479 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 22.9% (2nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 49.5% (1st 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 11,396 people averages the 5th lowest median household income in California and the 1st 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.

Adelanto, CA

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 32,867
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $34,446 (14th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 17.2% (7th highest)
Poverty Rate: 38.5% (5th highest)
More on Adelanto:  Data | Photos

The second poorest city in California is Adelanto.

The city ranks as having the 5th highest incidence of poverty and 14th lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate ‘only’ ranks as the 7th highest in the Golden State.

Calipatria, CA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 7,426
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 6)
Median Income: $35,486 (19th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 19.3% (5th highest)
Poverty Rate: 37.9% (6th highest)
More on Calipatria:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, Calipatria’s median income ranks as the 19th 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 37.9% 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.

Clearlake, CA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

2
/10

Population: 15,061
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Median Income: $27,034 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 15.9% (15th highest)
Poverty Rate: 35.9% (14th highest)
More on Clearlake:  Data | Photos

Clearlake ranks as the fourth poorest place in California.

The town ranks as having the 4th lowest median household income and the 13th 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.

Orange Cove, CA

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 9,567
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 1)
Median Income: $25,619 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 13.6% (30th highest)
Poverty Rate: 45.9% (2nd highest)
More on Orange Cove:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in California is Orange Cove.

The city ranks as having the 2nd 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 2nd highest in California.

Still not the best news for Orange Cove.

Arcata, CA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 17,814
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Median Income: $30,866 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 14.2% (24th highest)
Poverty Rate: 37.2% (7th highest)
More on Arcata:  Data | Photos

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

It ranks as having the 7th highest incidence of poverty and the 23rd highest unemployment rate.

Corning, CA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 7,550
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 2)
Median Income: $34,792 (16th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 16.7% (11th highest)
Poverty Rate: 33.0% (16th highest)
More on Corning:  Data | Photos

Corning places as the seventh poorest city in California.

The city of over 7,550 ranks as having the 16th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.

Woodlake, CA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 7,631
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 2)
Median Income: $32,375 (10th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 13.4% (32nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 36.9% (8th highest)
More on Woodlake:  Data | Photos

Woodlake ranks as the eighth poorest city in California.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 32nd highest in the state.

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 13,930
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 2)
Median Income: $35,069 (17th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 14.2% (24th highest)
Poverty Rate: 35.9% (14th highest)
More on Mcfarland:  Data

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

While the median income is the 17th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, McFarland ranks as having the 13th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in California.

Barstow, CA

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 23,609
Rank Last Year: 18 (Up 8)
Median Income: $36,606 (22nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 14.1% (26th highest)
Poverty Rate: 36.4% (11th highest)
More on Barstow:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 23,609 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 2019

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 Hills
    2nd Richest: Los Altos
    3rd Richest: Danville

For more California reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In California

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 Mendota 11,396 49.5%
2 Adelanto 32,867 38.5%
3 Calipatria 7,426 37.9%
4 Clearlake 15,061 35.9%
5 Orange Cove 9,567 45.9%
6 Arcata 17,814 37.2%
7 Corning 7,550 33.0%
8 Woodlake 7,631 36.9%
9 Mcfarland 13,930 35.9%
10 Barstow 23,609 36.4%
11 Huron 6,926 43.5%
12 Corcoran 22,650 35.6%
13 Coachella 44,382 28.0%
14 Avenal 13,119 36.3%
15 Desert Hot Springs 28,298 36.8%
16 Merced 82,008 30.2%
17 Firebaugh 8,275 30.0%
18 Calexico 39,953 25.3%
19 Wasco 26,378 28.0%
20 Parlier 15,051 40.8%
21 Holtville 6,355 29.3%
22 Brawley 25,959 28.1%
23 California City 13,495 29.9%
24 Hemet 83,604 23.2%
25 Lindsay 13,167 36.9%
26 Dos Palos 5,186 27.0%
27 Farmersville 10,738 25.6%
28 San Bernardino 215,252 30.6%
29 Reedley 25,419 26.2%
30 Yreka 7,571 27.5%
31 Porterville 58,782 30.1%
32 Delano 52,709 24.4%
33 Dinuba 23,712 26.8%
34 Red Bluff 14,111 25.3%
35 Grass Valley 12,893 26.3%
36 Arvin 20,826 27.5%
37 Cudahy 24,146 30.2%
38 El Centro 43,932 24.9%
39 Shafter 18,433 25.3%
40 Twentynine Palms 25,995 22.8%
41 Crescent City 6,751 31.0%
42 Banning 30,824 23.4%
43 Hawaiian Gardens 14,465 26.2%
44 Fresno 519,037 28.4%
45 Marysville 12,225 26.0%
46 Blythe 19,486 26.2%
47 Victorville 121,721 23.3%
48 Maywood 27,700 26.1%
49 Waterford 8,786 24.9%
50 Huntington Park 58,993 28.0%
51 Los Banos 37,559 21.7%
52 Bell Gardens 42,845 29.7%
53 Yucca Valley 21,483 21.2%
54 Ukiah 15,917 20.0%
55 Sanger 24,883 29.2%
56 Oroville 18,932 26.6%
57 Orland 7,532 24.4%
58 Gridley 6,576 22.4%
59 Compton 97,847 23.0%
60 Hesperia 93,190 22.5%
61 Atwater 29,118 21.2%
62 Anderson 10,176 21.3%
63 Stockton 304,358 22.4%
64 Gustine 5,735 16.7%
65 Bell 35,942 24.7%
66 Eureka 27,024 22.8%
67 Inglewood 111,006 20.1%
68 El Cajon 103,314 23.0%
69 Madera 64,058 26.9%
70 Selma 24,537 23.3%
71 Lompoc 43,762 20.8%
72 Exeter 10,520 23.2%
73 South Gate 95,420 19.3%
74 Lynwood 71,350 22.7%
75 Perris 75,011 21.2%
76 San Jacinto 46,932 18.2%
77 Coalinga 16,612 23.7%
78 Commerce 12,998 16.0%
79 National City 60,715 22.7%
80 Chico 90,660 24.6%
81 Fortuna 11,981 17.6%
82 Apple Valley 71,916 18.1%
83 Palm Springs 47,140 18.5%
84 Kerman 14,537 21.5%
85 King City 13,721 25.0%
86 Imperial Beach 27,270 19.0%
87 Yuba City 66,229 17.6%
88 Willows 6,055 19.9%
89 Chowchilla 18,314 29.0%
90 Pomona 152,366 20.7%
91 Cathedral City 53,733 20.7%
92 Rialto 102,708 17.9%
93 Indio 86,867 18.1%
94 Live Oak 8,537 22.6%
95 Fort Bragg 7,269 19.0%
96 Lancaster 160,113 23.3%
97 Ceres 47,650 15.2%
98 Modesto 210,166 17.0%
99 Hawthorne 87,425 17.0%
100 Newman 10,951 15.0%

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One thought on “These Are The 10 Poorest Cities In California For 2019

  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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