Social and Economic Inequality in the West Coast States


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The pattern of lower annual income in households with black or Hispanic residents seen nationally was replicated in each of the west coast states in 2009, as shown in the figure below.  However, there was more income parity between non-Hispanic whites and Asians in the west coast states than in the nation as a whole.

As shown in the overview of poverty in the west coast states, the association between minority race or ethnicity and poverty is evident in each west coast state. In California, about one in five blacks and one in five Hispanics were living in poverty in 2009. Native Americans and non-Hispanic Whites were also more likely than Asians to live below the poverty line. In Oregon, more than one in four Native Americans (27%), Hispanics (24%) and blacks (24%) were living below the poverty line in 2009. Similarly, in Washington State,  roughly one in four blacks (24%), Hispanics (25%), and Native Americans (24%) are living below the federal poverty level. The poverty rate of Asians in these three states is comparable to that of non-Hispanic whites (10-12%).

Given the differences in poverty rates by nativity found nationally, it is not surprising to find that poverty rates tend to be higher among the foreign born population in the west coast states. In 2009, the poverty rate among the foreign born population was between 3 and 6 percentage points higher than the rates among the native born in the west coast states.