An estimated 15.7% of residents in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim metro area live below the poverty line, a larger share than the national poverty rate of 14.7% and roughly similar to the state’s poverty rate of 15.3%. Los Angeles has the 12th lowest poverty rate of any California metro area.

A high school education can mean the difference between living above or below the poverty line. Nationwide, the 87.1% of Americans who have at least graduated high school are 1.9 times less likely to be in poverty than those who did not complete high school. In Los Angeles, adults who graduated from high school are 1.6 times less likely to be in poverty. An estimated 79.5% of adults in Los Angeles have at least a high school diploma, the 12th lowest high school attainment rate in the state.

The share of metro area residents living in poverty may depend on the health of the local job market. As the national unemployment rate fell from 8.9% in 2011 to 5.3% in 2015, the number of U.S. jobs increased by 9.9 million. In Los Angeles, however, the 4.6% unemployment rate is lower than the jobless rate nationwide, despite the high poverty rate.

High poverty often creates the conditions for a high violent crime rate. There were 432 violent crimes per 100,000 Los Angeles residents in 2015, higher than the national crime rate of 373 incidents per 100,000 Americans.

Living in poverty can have adverse effects on physical and mental health. With lower wages, those living in poverty are less likely to have access to healthy food, opportunities for physical activity, and quality medical care. In Los Angeles, there are 253 premature deaths per 100,000 residents annually, less than the national premature death rate of 474 per 100,000 Americans.

Poverty is often concentrated along racial lines. Nationwide, 25.4% of African Americans live in poverty, compared to 10.4% of white Americans. Poverty is less divided along racial lines in Los Angeles, where 21.4% of African Americans and 9.6% of white residents live below the poverty line.

While poverty tends to be concentrated in certain neighborhoods and districts within a city, a metropolitan area with a high poverty rate tends to have less wealthy residents overall. The typical household in the Los Angeles metro area earns $62,544 annually, lower than the median household income for California of $64,500, and higher than the median income for all U.S. households of $55,775 nationwide. Los Angeles has the 12th highest median household income of any California metro area.

Rank Metro Area Poverty
Rate
10 Pine Bluff, AR 25.7%
9 Valdosta, GA 26.6%
8 Merced, CA 26.7%
7 Greenville, NC 26.8%
5 Athens-Clarke County, GA 27.1%
5 Las Cruces, NM 27.1%
4 Visalia-Porterville, CA 27.6%
3 McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX 31.5%
2 Laredo, TX 31.8%
1 Brownsville-Harlingen, TX 32.4%