Measuring Success

Target 3: Poverty Rate

Issue area

There are multiple ways to measure poverty.

The official poverty measure, while updated for inflation using the CPI,[1] does not take geographical variation into consideration. Therefore, it does not account for LA County’s high housing and transportation costs, along with other critical living expense differentials between regions. In other words, the official poverty measure underestimates the severity of poverty in our region.

For this reason, we used the California Poverty Measure (CPM). Jointly produced by the Public Policy Institute of California and the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, the CPM is a comprehensive index that improves upon conventional poverty measures and accounts for geographic variation in the costs of living. Accordingly, the CPM is a more accurate reflection of poverty in LA County than the official poverty measure.


To set a target on poverty rate, we established a baseline by comparing the poverty rates in both California and Los Angeles County, using the CPM.

CPM Poverty Rates2

(Figure 6) Poverty remains a greater issue in Los Angeles County than the state although poverty rates, on average, have decreased for both regions since 2011.


Between 2011 and 2016, the average percentages of residents living in poverty in California and Los Angeles County are 21 percent and 25 percent, respectively. Using the state’s average as our longer-term target, which is currently four points below the county’s rate, we hope to see our poverty rate in Los Angeles County decrease by at least two points to 23 percent or less by the end of 2020.

[2] For more about homeless count, see Lorin Kinney, Senior Analyst of Data & Research at Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA). Versions of this table are available starting in 2011. The latest available data is from 2016 as of the time of publication.