New census data from the American Community Survey showed the poverty rate in Santa Barbara County remained high at 16.3 percent in 2012, despite record highs in the stock market and corporate profits.
Median income was virtually unchanged at $61,890.
The local data reflect national trends where average working families are not sharing in the gains of overall productivity and economic growth.
The most significant change from last year was the jump in the poverty rate in Santa Maria from 17.2 percent to 23.5 percent, largely due to low-income families moving to the city from higher cost parts of the county in search of affordable housing.
Future policy changes like the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the possibility of comprehensive immigration reform have the potential to reduce poverty in the region.
Income, Health Insurance and Poverty in Santa Barbara County in 2012
» Median income — Santa Barbara County, $61,890; Santa Barbara, $64,766; Santa Maria, $44,349
» Uninsurance rate — Santa Barbara County, 18.6 percent; Santa Barbara, 21.8 percent; Santa Maria, 28.2 percent
» Poverty rate — Santa Barbara County, 16.3 percent; Santa Barbara, 12 percent; Santa Maria, 23.5 percent
— Anabel Merino is a community organizer for CAUSE.