Photo: California's Rural Minority Communities Struggling More than Most (Photo: David Bacon)
California’s rural minority communities are facing striking poverty unmatched by many in the U.S. in the face of the struggling economy.
Compared to Silicon Valley of Santa Clara County, which in 2009 had an average yearly income of $94,715, San Benito County, which is largely made up of Mexican immigrants, the average annual income was $37,623.
Also, when California’s unemployment rate reached 12 percent last year, San Benito County saw 20.6 percent, twice that of Santa Clara.
However, what is happening in San Benito is not an isolated occurrence. Rural unemployment across the entire state is higher than the state’s average, and the incomes lower. In March, Imperial County had a 30 percent unemployment rate, the highest in the state. In Fresno County, the per capita annual incomes were $8,000 and $7,500 in 2009.
When incomes fall during a recession, the income in rural areas drops faster and farther.
In San Benito County, a food pantry that once only needed to help 35 families just 20 years ago. Last year, the Community Pantry hand out 1,750 bags to more than 5,000 people.