Poorest Cities In California For 2020


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 2020. This is our sixth 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.

Here are the ten poorest places in California for 2020:

  1. Mendota (Photos)
  2. Orange Cove (Photos)
  3. Huron (Photos)
  4. Clearlake (Photos)
  5. Calipatria (Photos)
  6. Lindsay (Photos)
  7. Corcoran (Photos)
  8. Adelanto (Photos)
  9. McFarland
  10. Arcata (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.

What's the poorst city in California? According to the facts, Mendota is the poorest place in California for 2020.

Rich people more 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:

The 10 Poorest Cities In California For 2020

Mendota, CA

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 11,393
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $30,019 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 21.1% (1st highest)
Poverty Rate: 47.2% (2nd 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 11,393 people averages the 4th 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.

Orange Cove, CA

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 9,564
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 3)
Median Income: $25,660 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 14.3% (13th highest)
Poverty Rate: 47.8% (1st highest)
More on Orange Cove:  Data | Photos

The second poorest city in California is Orange Cove.

The city ranks as having the 1st highest incidence of poverty and 2nd lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate 'only' ranks as the 13th highest in the Golden State.

Huron, CA

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 7,019
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 8)
Median Income: $22,086 (1st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 13.6% (17th highest)
Poverty Rate: 45.7% (3rd highest)
More on Huron:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, Huron's median income ranks as the 1st 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 45.73301040034193% 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: 15,323
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Income: $28,888 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 17.9% (5th highest)
Poverty Rate: 34.1% (13th highest)
More on Clearlake:  Data | Photos

Clearlake ranks as the fourth poorest place in California.

The town ranks as having the 3rd 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.

Calipatria, CA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 7,458
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 2)
Median Income: $35,842 (17th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 19.3% (4th highest)
Poverty Rate: 32.3% (16th highest)
More on Calipatria:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in California is Calipatria.

The city ranks as having the 17th 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 16th highest in California.

Still not the best news for Calipatria.

Lindsay, CA

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 13,232
Rank Last Year: 25 (Up 19)
Median Income: $30,949 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 13.1% (26th highest)
Poverty Rate: 35.2% (11th highest)
More on Lindsay:  Data | Photos

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

It ranks as having the 11th highest incidence of poverty and the 26th highest unemployment rate.

Corcoran, CA

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 22,301
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 5)
Median Income: $40,302 (28th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 14.5% (10th highest)
Poverty Rate: 37.2% (5th highest)
More on Corcoran:  Data | Photos

Corcoran places as the seventh poorest city in California.

The city of over 22,301 ranks as having the 5th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.

Adelanto, CA

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 33,416
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 6)
Median Income: $40,018 (27th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 15.6% (7th highest)
Poverty Rate: 35.4% (10th highest)
More on Adelanto:  Data | Photos

Adelanto ranks as the eighth poorest city in California.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 7th highest in the state.

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 14,456
Rank Last Year: 9 (No Change)
Median Income: $33,281 (11th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 13.1% (27th highest)
Poverty Rate: 36.8% (6th 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 11th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, McFarland ranks as having the 6th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in California.

Arcata, CA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 18,050
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 4)
Median Income: $31,674 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 12.0% (35th highest)
Poverty Rate: 37.4% (4th highest)
More on Arcata:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 18,050 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 2020

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 2014-2018 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 2020". You can download the data here.

There You Have It - The Poorest Places In California For 2020

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: Tiburon
    2nd Richest: Piedmont
    3rd Richest: Clayton

For more California reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In California

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 Mendota 11,393 47.2%
2 Orange Cove 9,564 47.8%
3 Huron 7,019 45.7%
4 Clearlake 15,323 34.1%
5 Calipatria 7,458 32.3%
6 Lindsay 13,232 35.2%
7 Corcoran 22,301 37.2%
8 Adelanto 33,416 35.4%
9 Mcfarland 14,456 36.8%
10 Arcata 18,050 37.4%
11 Corning 7,535 34.3%
12 Firebaugh 8,295 27.7%
13 Brawley 26,009 31.8%
14 Barstow 23,812 36.6%
15 Parlier 15,120 36.1%
16 Desert Hot Springs 28,430 33.5%
17 Avenal 12,923 33.1%
18 Calexico 39,934 25.1%
19 Merced 82,289 29.7%
20 Coachella 44,849 23.4%
21 Holtville 6,458 28.3%
22 Red Bluff 14,132 26.7%
23 Farmersville 10,742 27.7%
24 Porterville 59,797 29.8%
25 Shafter 18,923 25.6%
26 California City 13,646 28.7%
27 Hemet 84,069 21.5%
28 Dinuba 23,871 25.9%
29 Arvin 21,005 28.1%
30 Delano 52,713 24.5%
31 San Bernardino 215,182 28.4%
32 Oroville 19,040 27.8%
33 Twentynine Palms 26,109 23.5%
34 El Centro 43,898 24.6%
35 Woodlake 7,636 36.0%
36 Wasco 26,708 22.9%
37 Maywood 27,542 25.7%
38 Banning 30,942 23.2%
39 Madera 64,362 27.8%
40 Reedley 25,493 23.1%
41 Huntington Park 58,694 26.1%
42 Cudahy 24,016 28.0%
43 Blythe 19,581 28.4%
44 Fresno 522,277 26.9%
45 Victorville 121,861 22.8%
46 Yreka 7,551 24.2%
47 Bell Gardens 42,641 29.9%
48 Yucca Valley 21,543 19.9%
49 Exeter 10,505 24.0%
50 Atwater 29,197 21.3%
51 Crescent City 6,681 31.2%
52 Ukiah 15,946 19.9%
53 Grass Valley 12,932 21.7%
54 Fort Bragg 7,298 20.7%
55 Eureka 27,020 22.3%
56 Sanger 24,978 30.7%
57 Chico 91,998 24.7%
58 Compton 97,301 21.9%
59 Los Banos 38,119 20.7%
60 Waterford 8,823 20.9%
61 Stockton 306,283 20.5%
62 Willows 6,022 21.4%
63 South Gate 95,103 18.8%
64 Hesperia 93,609 21.0%
65 Gridley 6,585 18.1%
66 Selma 24,598 25.4%
67 El Cajon 103,285 21.7%
68 Lompoc 43,511 19.1%
69 Lynwood 71,022 20.5%
70 Live Oak 8,622 24.1%
71 San Jacinto 47,474 18.2%
72 Orland 7,541 24.9%
73 Inglewood 110,327 18.5%
74 Hawaiian Gardens 14,411 23.1%
75 Dos Palos 5,272 20.1%
76 Bell 35,809 23.9%
77 Imperial Beach 27,290 20.0%
78 Apple Valley 72,359 17.8%
79 Kerman 14,649 20.0%
80 Marysville 12,282 22.6%
81 Perris 76,276 20.2%
82 Indio 88,291 17.4%
83 Palm Springs 47,525 17.3%
84 Coalinga 16,538 21.8%
85 Lancaster 159,662 23.8%
86 Rialto 102,873 17.6%
87 Tehachapi 12,753 22.3%
88 Highland 54,859 20.0%
89 National City 60,896 19.9%
90 Pomona 152,494 20.1%
91 Cathedral City 54,037 20.7%
92 Ceres 47,975 15.6%
93 Yuba City 66,388 16.0%
94 Gustine 5,774 13.0%
95 Chowchilla 18,533 19.5%
96 Commerce 12,933 16.3%
97 Oakdale 22,599 14.0%
98 Modesto 211,336 15.9%
99 El Monte 115,669 20.8%
100 Taft 9,307 24.5%

How Is The Area In ?

One thought on “Poorest Cities In California, 2020

  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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