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The number of Californians living in poverty increased to nearly six million - more than the populations of most states - between 2009 and 2010, according to a new Census Bureau report.

Californians living in poverty increased from 5.1 million in 2009 to 5.8 million in 2010, and the state's poverty rate jumped from 14.2 percent to 15.8 percent during the one-year period, virtually mirroring national trends. That means that California was almost exactly in the middle of the states, whose poverty rates last year ranged from a high of 22.4 percent in Mississippi (not counting Puerto Rico) to a low of 8.3 percent in New Hampshire.

The rates were derived from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey and were based on how many families were below a "poverty threshold" that varies by age, number of children and family size and is updated to account for inflation.

Four of California's larger urban areas were included in the Census Bureau's 10-region list of those with the highest poverty rates, with Fresno the nation's second most poverty-stricken area at 26.8 percent, Bakersfield-Delano fourth highest at 21.2 percent, Modesto sixth at 19.9 percent, and Stockton seventh at 19.2 percent.

No large metropolitan area in California is found on the list of those with the lowest poverty rates, which is topped by Washington-Arlington-Alexandria at 8.4 percent.

A separate Census Bureau report, meanwhile, found that California is one of the relatively few states in which the percentage of families receiving some form of welfare assistance increased between 2009 and 2010.

The welfare report, also derived from the American Community Survey, says that the proportion of California families receiving welfare at some point during the year increased from 3.7 percent in 2009 to 4 percent in 2010. Both numbers were well above of the national rates of 2.6 and 2.9 percent.

The survey analysis found that while 449,059 California families received welfare support in 2009 and the number increased to 500,432 in 2010, by far the largest numerical increase of any state.


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