How does California compare to other states?
California represents the fifth-largest economy in the world and its 39.25 million residents give it the largest population in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate dropped to 3.8% as of October 2019 as the economy has recovered. Total nonfarm employment grew 1.7% and government employment grew 1.5% from January to December 2019. The sector that saw the greatest growth over the time period is Education and Health Services, growing 3.4% over the 12 months.
California has the 20th-highest poverty rate of 14% under the traditional poverty measure. Mississippi has the highest at 20%, while New Hampshire has the lowest of 7.6%. Due largely to the high cost of housing, California has the highest poverty rate under the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), which takes cost of living into account. California’s SPM rate is 18.1% in 2020, compared to a national average of around 13.1% (three year average 2016-2018). Louisiana has the next highest SPM rate at 16.5%, followed by Florida at 16.2% and Mississippi at 15.8%. California's SPM rate has been gradually improving, from a recent peak of 20.4% in 2018.
Comparison of Tax Rate by Type
California spends more total dollars for public services than other states largely due to its large population, so per-person (or "per capita") comparisons are the most useful. As of 2018, California ranked 23rd in spending per capita with $6,834. Alaska spends the most with $14,016 and Florida spends the least with $3,696. The U.S. average is $6,135.