Gov. Jerry Brown, whose pronouncements of California's economic recovery have been criticized by Republicans who point out the state's high poverty rate, said in a radio interview Wednesday that poverty and the large number of people looking for work are "really the flip side of California's incredible attractiveness and prosperity."
The Democratic governor's remarks aired the same day the U.S. Census Bureau reported that 23.8 percent of Californians live in poverty under an alternative calculation that includes the cost of living.
Asked on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" about two negative indicators — the state's nation-high poverty rate and the large number of Californians who are unemployed or marginally employed and looking for work — Brown said, "Well, that's true, because California is a magnet.
"People come here from all over in the world, close by from Mexico and Central America and farther out from Asia and the Middle East. So, California beckons, and people come. And then, of course, a lot of people who arrive are not that skilled, and they take lower paying jobs. And that reflects itself in the economic distribution."
Brown, who has frequently lamented disparity between the world's upper and lower classes, added, "So, yeah, it's there, but it's really the flip side of California's incredible attractiveness and prosperity."
After signing a balanced budget earlier this year, Brown has held California out as a model of functionality. But as he prepares for a likely re-election bid next year, Republicans are preparing to challenge him on the economy.
Among others who have recently used California's poverty rate to question the resilience of the state's economic turnaround are Texas Gov. Rick Perry and California Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, the Republican from Twin Peaks who announced this week he will run for governor next year.
PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at the California Chamber of Commerce's annual host breakfast in Sacramento on May 22, 2013. The Associated Press/Rich Pedroncelli