Pasadena has a well-deserved reputation as a “livable” city. But the question must be asked: Livable for whom?

Pasadena has become one of California’s most unequal cities. It welcomes affluent residents, while poor families and even many middle-class households can barely make ends meet. Many families have been pushed out of Pasadena by the combination of insufficient incomes and rising housing prices. The city is now characterized by a widening income gulf, low wages for many, and high rents. That’s the troublesome reality as documented by the latest U.S. Census figures and other data.

This harsh reality is not simply the result of inevitable economic forces. Decisions made in City Hall — particularly about jobs and housing — contribute to Pasadena’s widening income gap and the hardships encountered by a significant number of families.

Pasadena is one of America’s best-known cities. Its reputation is due in large part to the Tournament of Roses, the Rose Parade, the Rose Bowl (including the annual football game as well as other events held in that iconic structure), its Craftsman bungalow houses, its commitment to historic preservation, and its thriving downtown commercial center. It is home to many world-class institutions, including Art Center College of Design, Pasadena Playhouse, Huntington Library, the Norton Simon Museum, and the California Institute of Technology, which has fostered several major engineering and science-oriented corporations.  All this gives Pasadena a well-deserved reputation for prosperity.

But there’s a big disconnect between the city’s image and its reality.  Pasadena is indeed prosperous, but its prosperity is not widely shared. Less than half a mile from where the Rose Parade route begins, near Millionaires Row, Pasadena becomes a city of low-wage workers, predominantly Latino and black. In this city of 140,000 people, tens of thousands of workers and families struggle to meet their basic needs.

As tourists spend their money in Pasadena’s hotels, restaurants, stores, and rental car agencies, they probably don’t realize that most of the hotel housekeepers, waiters and waitresses, kitchen workers, retail clerks, and janitors don’t earn enough to make ends meet. If they don’t wander off the parade route or travel to the residential areas not far from the Rose Bowl, they won’t see the small homes and apartment buildings that house the other part of Pasadena. We have reported twice before on Pasadena’s Tale of Two Cities, most recently in 2014.  We have written this new report to update the facts and provide the community with information that can help inform and guide public discussion and government policy.

Our investigation led to three conclusions:

First, Pasadena remains a city characterized by a wide economic divide. Pasadena ranks second among California’s 50 largest cities in terms of the concentration of income among the wealthiest residents and the gap between the richest and poorest households.  For example, the average income of the richest five percent of Pasadena households ($547,864) is more than 45 times greater than the average income of the poorest 20 percent of households ($12,153).

Second, the economic chasm has widened since we wrote our earlier reports. The percentage of low-income households remains the same, while the percentage of households with incomes over $200,000 increased. This trend results in a hollowed out middle class.  The Pasadena City Council’s decision to adopt a municipal minimum wage (currently $13.25 for employees of businesses with 26 or more employe­­­es and $12 for employees of other businesses) has helped improve the lives of thousands of Pasadena workers and their families, but it still remains far below what is needed to make ends meet.  In February, the Pasadena City Council will vote whether to freeze the minimum wage at its current level or continue, like Los Angeles and Altadena, on the path to $15/hour by July 2020 (for businesses with over 25 employees) and by July 2021 (for all other businesses).

Third, Pasadena is becoming more and more expensive to live in. City policies are fueling gentrification, making it harder for low-income and middle-class families to live here. Housing costs — for single-family homes, condominiums, and apartments — have skyrocketed.  Pasadena is now one of the most expensive cities in California.


A decade ago, the Occupy Wall Street movement popularized the phrase “the 1 percent vs. the 99 percent” to characterize America’s widening economic divide and the growing influence of Wall Street and big business in our political system. Indeed, the super-rich have gained a growing share of the nation’s wealth. Recent studies show that the top 10 percent of households garner over 78 percent of the country’s wealth and that the top 1/1000 of households has over 15 percent of the wealth, a higher percentage than in 1983. [1]

In some ways, Pasadena is a prosperous city. In 2017 the city’s average household income was $109,871. Among California’s 50 largest cities, Pasadena ranks tenth that category, as shown in Table 1. That means that, on average, Pasadena residents have more money to spend in local stores, restaurants and other businesses than their counterparts in most other cities. Because Pasadena is also a major tourist destination, much of the money spent in the local economy comes from people visiting the city.

The average household income reveals the size of a city’s overall economic pie, but it doesn’t reveal anything about how that pie is divided.

We have utilized several standard ways to measure inequality in Pasadena.

The first is to look at the concentration of income among the rich — how the economic pie is divided. In 2013-2017, the richest five percent of Pasadena households — those with incomes over $250,000 — had almost one-quarter (24.93 percent) of the income earned by city residents. On this measure, Pasadena ranks second among California’s 50 largest cities, behind Los Angeles (27.06 percent) (See Table 2). [2]

The richest 20 percent Pasadena households — those with household incomes above $156,810 — have over half (53.6 percent) of city residents’ total income. On this measure, too, only Los Angeles has a higher concentration of income among the richest twenty percent. (See Table 3)

In contrast, the poorest one-fifth of Pasadena households — those with incomes below $26,059 — combined have only 2.2 percent of all residents’ income. As Table 3 reveals, in California only in San Francisco and Lancaster do poor households have a smaller share of citywide income. Pasadena is even more unequal than the country and California.

Another standard way to measure inequality is to consider the gap between the rich and poor. To do this, we compared the average income of households at the top (the richest five percent of households) with the average income of those at the bottom (the poorest 20 percent of households).

In Pasadena, the average income of the richest five percent of households ($547,864) is more than 45 times greater than the average income of the poorest 20 percent of households ($12,153). Only San Francisco has a wider rich-poor gap (See Table 4).

When we compare the gap between the richest 20 percent and the poorest 20 percent, Pasadena is, once again, nearly the most unequal California city. The average income of the richest 20 percent of Pasadena households ($294,533) is 24 times greater than the average income of the poorest 20 percent ($12,153). On this measure, only San Francisco and Lancaster outdo Pasadena as California’s capital of inequality (See Table 5).

Making Ends Meet in Pasadena

Many Pasadena families do not earn enough to make ends meet. The number of Pasadena households surviving on a low income, less than $25,000 per year, stayed the same between 2013 and 2017. (The city’s minimum wage law began on July 1, 2016). About 10,000 Pasadena households, 19 percent of the total, get by on incomes below $25,000 (See Table 6). The $25,000 threshold does not adjust for five percent inflation since 2013, so in actual buying power poor households are doing worse.

The story at the top end is quite different. Over the six-year period between 2013 and 2017, the number of households with incomes over $200,000 jumped by nearly 1,000, so that they now comprise one in eight Pasadena households. The percentage of these affluent families in Pasadena is almost double the national rate of 6.3 percent.

With the percentage of low-income households staying the same and percentage of affluent households rising, it isn’t surprising that the middle-income group shrank. Between 2013 and 2017 those with incomes between $25,000 and $100,000 per year fell from 45.9 percent to 42.6 percent of Pasadena households. The next highest group, households with incomes $100,000 to $200,000 increased by 1.5 percent of the total.
A recent report by the California Budget and Policy Center examined the economic challenges faced by many Californians by showing the monthly and annual cost of supporting a family or a single individual in different parts of the state. Its analysis presented basic family budgets for each of California’s 58 counties for four types of households: a single adult, a single-parent family, a two-parent family with one parent working, and a two-working-parent family. (All family types except single adult are assumed to have one preschool-aged child and one school-aged child). These family budgets estimate the amount of income that households  need to cover basic expenses.

In Los Angeles County, a family with two income earners and two children needs an annual household income of $74,679 to make ends meet. A family with two parents, one of whom works, and two children, needs to earn $59,338 a year to make ends meet. A single-parent family with two children needs to earn $65,865 a year to make ends meet (because child care costs are higher for a single parent than a two-parent family where one parent is not working).  A single adult needs to make $29,217 to make ends meet. [3]  The specific costs of the major items in household budgets – housing and utilities, food, child care, health care, transportation, taxes, and miscellaneous — are identified in the report.

Because of high housing costs (discussed below), the cost of living in Pasadena is higher than in most other Los Angeles County cities. For example, the budgets calculated by the California Budget and Policy Center for Los Angeles County assumes that households pay $1,545 for housing and utilities. Housing costs in Pasadena are considerably higher. As a result, few Pasadena households earn enough to make ends meet based on the California Budget and Policy Center calculations.


One-third of Pasadena workers earn less than $15 per hour. That percentage is unchanged since our last report five years ago. Because there are more employees in Pasadena, the number of these low-wage workers increased slightly in number to 23,117. (See Table 7) As in the past, most low wage earners, 59 percent, work full time and full year, and 85 percent work full year. Thus, the stereotype of a minimum wage worker as a summer employed teenager is entirely misleading.

The new data show that low wage workers are concentrated in a few sectors: food services, accommodations such as motels and hotels, health care, education services (primarily early childhood), retail trade, and construction (See Table 8). Since our last report, the greatest increases in low-wage employment have occurred in the construction, retail trade, and food services sectors.

Within these sectors, hotels, motels, food service and retail trade have the largest percentage of low wage workers, more than one-half the workforce. Health care and education have large numbers of low-wage workers, although not surprisingly, in those industries a majority earns more than $15 per hour.

These official government data underestimate the number of low-wage workers because they omit some workers in the informal economy such as day laborers, home care workers, and gardeners, who are not completely counted in the U.S. Census Bureau surveys.

Pasadena low-wage workers are concentrated in sectors that cannot easily leave to avoid higher wages. Unlike clothing factories, for example, hotels, restaurants, retail shops, day care centers, and construction are local businesses that are tied to the Pasadena economy. They cannot easily relocate to Asia, Mexico, or Alabama.  In fact, the attractiveness of doing business in Pasadena — and taking advantage of its amenities, the concentration of hotels and restaurants, its shopping districts, and other factors — means that most local businesses prefer locating in Pasadena over even adjacent cities and suburbs.  This makes it easier for Pasadena to maintain its current minimum wage in line with Los Angeles City and County and for Pasadena businesses to absorb gradual increases in the minimum wage.

In public debate, some restaurant owners have taken the lead in opposing the minimum wage. Around the country, restaurants experience high turnover, but not because they provide high wages, but because of poor management, changing consumer tastes, competition from other eateries, and rising commercial rents. Indeed, nationwide about 60 percent of restaurants fold within three years of openings — more often than other business. [4] As far as Pasadena finances go, restaurants are not one of the city’s major industry sectors. Restaurants account for about 19 percent of total city sales tax revenue, less than the revenue collected from consumer goods purchases and from automobile related purchases. [5]


Pasadena is an expensive place to live, primarily because of skyrocketing housing prices and rents. People who have owned their houses for many years have seen dramatic appreciation in the value of their homes, even those who have done little or nothing to improve the physical condition of the house and yard. The median price of a single-family in Pasadena increased from $680,000 in 2013 to $960,000 in 2018, an increase of 41.2 percent. During that same period, the average price of a single-family home increased from $919,599 to $1,239,966, a 34.8 percent increase, according to CoreLogic.

Pasadenans still aspire to own their own homes, but the cost is out of reach for most of them. Among households with incomes below $35,000, only 22.5 percent own their homes. Among households with incomes between $35,000 and $99,999, 35.6 percent own their homes. Among households with incomes of $100,000 or more, 65.3 percent own their homes. (See Table 14). Many current homeowners who purchased their homes a decade or more ago could not afford to buy the same home today. The median household income of Pasadena renters is $55,752 compared with $115,074 for homeowners, as shown in Table 13.

The housing developments approved by the city have exacerbated this situation. Most housing developments approved by the City Council since 2002 are luxury condos and expensive apartments targeted for high-income residents. According to city data, only 18 percent of the 5,311 new housing units are within reach of low-income and moderate-income families.  For example, in the new 201-unit Avila apartment complex on Walnut Street, 171 units are market rate. Rents for two-bedroom apartments range from $3,641 to $4,111 a month.

It will surprise no one that Pasadena housing costs are on the rise. But the impact disproportionately affects the two Pasadenas.

Renters make up a majority — over 56 percent — of Pasadena households, and their plight in particularly insecure. In the past five years, the median rent for a two-bedroom apartment has increased from $2,200 to $2,900, according to Zillow. That amounts to a 31.8 percent increase, much, much faster than increases in incomes, especially for the bottom one-third of Pasadena households (See Table 9). A family needs to earn $115,750 a year to pay a $2,900 monthly rent without spending over 30 percent of its income — the rule-of-thumb among housing experts. More than half (52 percent) of all Pasadena renters pay over 30 percent of household incomes just to keep a roof over their heads, as shown in Table 10. More than one-third of Pasadena’s renter households have incomes below $35,000/year. High rents hit these households particularly hard. A whopping 95 percent of those with household incomes under $35,000 spend more than 30 percent of their incomes on housing (See Table 10).

Among renters who earn less than $15 per hour, housing is a tremendous burden. An astonishing 31 percent of renters in this group pay over one-half of their earnings in rent and 62 percent pay more than the recommended 30 percent level. (See Table 11) As a result, 20 percent of families with wage-earners earning below $15/hour live in overcrowded conditions, with six percent living in severely overcrowded situations, defined as more than one and one-half people per room. (See Table 12)

Homeowners feel the squeeze, too. Among homeowners with household incomes under $35,000, 83.5 percent spend more than 30 percent of their incomes on housing. Among those with household incomes between $35,000 and $49,999, 62.7 percent spend more than 30 percent of their incomes on housing (See Table 10).

Conclusions and Recommendations

Pasadenans justifiably take pride in Caltech, the Rose Bowl, our museums and theaters, and our other world-class institutions. But some of our business, civic, and political leaders don’t seem to prioritize the needs of the city’s low-income and working-class residents who are the backbone of the Pasadena economy.

Many of Pasadena’s businesses, including its hotels and other parts of the tourism economy, are thriving, but that prosperity is not “trickling down” to the city’s low-income and working class residents.

In an astonishing turnaround, cities and states across the country have embraced minimum wages significantly higher than the national $7.25/hour rate. Pasadena was among the first, following the lead of Los Angeles, and then later Los Angeles County (for unincorporated areas, including Altadena), to adopt local laws raising the minimum wage. All three jurisdictions adopted laws intending to gradually increase the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2020 for employers with 26 or more employees and by 2021 for all other employers. However, the Pasadena City Council adopted a unique law that calls for a pause in 2019. The city minimum wage will stay stuck at its current $12/hour (for small businesses) and $13.25//hour (for others) unless the Pasadena City Council votes in February to stay on the same schedule as Los Angeles City and Los Angeles County.

All signs suggest that the economic recovery since the 2008- 2009 recession has boosted employment and business prospects. Most importantly it has put dollars in the wallets of low-income earners, improving their living standards and adding to consumer spending in Pasadena. The impact is across the region as Pasadena residents gain from the higher minimum wage in neighboring Los Angeles and unincorporated Altadena, which ois governed by the county. At the same time, residents in those jurisdictions (especially those who work in Pasadena) spend their higher income in Pasadena.

Thus it is important that Pasadena stay on the same track to $15/hour as Los Angeles and Altadena. Falling behind our neighbors will not only hurt Pasadena workers but also will lead to confusion if employers have different minimum pay mandates across the Pasadena-LA and Pasadena-Altadena borders.

Equally important is enforcement. Currently Pasadena has a small contract with the Pasadena Community Job Center to inform businesses and employers about the new minimum wage. This outreach effort has revealed widespread ignorance about pay rules, cases of wage theft through unpaid hours of work, and even kickbacks to employers (particularly for vulnerable immigrant workers).

The fact that so many Pasadenans spend so much of their incomes on housing places a burden on many families. But it also hurts the local business community. When families spend so much of their incomes on housing, they have less to spend on food, clothing, dry cleaning, household items, movies, and other goods and services, which hurts local businesses. It also makes it more difficult for local employers to find employees who live in the city. Long commutes into Pasadena exacerbate traffic congestion and pollution.

High housing costs have contributed to the decline in enrollment in Pasadena Unified School District schools, as low-income families have been pushed out of Pasadena. Declining enrollment means that PUSD receives less revenue from the state government, which is based on average daily attendance. To make things worse, PUSD has still not recovered from years of state budget cuts, which means that PUSD has larger class sizes, and more bare-bones arts, music, sports, and other programs, than those who attend public schools in more affluent surrounding districts. The additional sales tax, approved by Pasadena voters in November, will direct some of the new revenue to PUSD.  But it will not come close to closing the spending gap between PUSD and more affluent school districts.

Thanks to the city’s Inclusionary Housing Ordinance, a few of the new luxury housing projects include a handful of units that are affordable to nurses, school teachers, and firefighters and even some units that secretaries, janitors, security guards, and hotel workers can afford. But these affordable units are insufficient to make much of a dent in the city’s housing crisis, as is evident by the long waiting lists for these affordable apartments. Moreover, the city’s Inclusionary Housing Ordinance has a huge loophole. Most developers pay the city a small fee in lieu of creating affordable housing within these developments. City officials then have to figure out how to spend these funds to create housing affordable to low- and moderate-income families — a difficult task in light of the escalating cost of land in Pasadena.

All this new residential development has done little if anything to address Pasadena’s worsening housing crisis. These new projects’ expensive rents and condo prices don’t reduce pressure on existing rents. Contrary to those who argue that simply adding more expensive housing relieves market pressures (a theory called “filtering”), it does nothing to help low- and middle-income families. We cannot build our way out of the housing crisis with more and more luxury housing. We need to dramatically increase the city’s housing supply to meet current and projected population growth, primarily by adding new units that are affordable to low-income and middle-income families.

We also need to preserve the existing stock of rental housing, which far exceeds the number of new units that can be produced in the next several decades. As the city adds more high-end housing, landlords in the existing rental units raise rents to get closer to the rents in the pricy new apartments. Unless the city adopts policies to protect the existing (and shrinking) supply of affordable rental housing, Pasadena’s housing crisis will only get worse.

What can the city do on the housing front?

  • The city government can help nonprofit developers purchase existing apartment buildings and preserve them as permanently affordable rental or co-operative housing.
  • The city government can adopt a “just cause” eviction law that prevents landlords from arbitrarily evicting tenants unless there is a valid reason, such as not paying rent, destruction of property, or exhibiting loud or violent behavior.
  • The city government can adopt a version of rent control, which a number of other California cities have done. Rent control does not freeze rents. It allows landlords to raise rents each year based on increases in costs but limits how much they can increase rents. In other words, it allows landlords to make a fair profit, but not to gouge tenants because of the severe shortage of affordable housing. Over half (53 percent) of Pasadena voters supported Proposition 10 — which would have changed state law to allow cities more flexibility in adopting rent control policies —  despite the fact that the real estate industry statewide spent over $75 million, most of it in misleading media propaganda, to confuse voters
  • The city government can also adopt laws to restrict the conversion of apartments to condominiums. Condo conversions increase the cost of housing without increasing the supply.
  • The city government can revise its in-lieu fee policy to require developers to build affordable units within the market-rate developers rather than pay a small fee to avoid having to create mixed-income developments. The city government can also adopt other policies that require local businesses to be more socially responsible. For example:
  • The city government can increase hotel occupancy tax (paid for by tourists) and/or add a small surcharge on Rose Bowl tickets and direct the additional revenues to help subsidize new affordable housing or reduce class size in PUSD schools.
  • The city government can follow the lead of many other cities that extract “community benefit agreements” — including guarantees of decent jobs, affordable housing, park space, and other much-needed priorities — in exchange for public funds and city approvals. One of the biggest new development sites in Pasadena is the campus of the Fuller Theological Seminary, which is gradually moving to Pomona. The city should adopt a “community development agreement” on the entire site so that any developer who wants to purchase and build on that prime real estate site has to incorporate at least one-third of any housing units targeted to teachers, day care workers, secretaries, janitors, cooks and waiters, and other working people.

Until our community starts asking “livable for whom?” and begins addressing the need for affordable housing and good-paying jobs, Pasadena will continue to be a tragic tale of two cities.

Dr. Peter Dreier is E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics and founding chair of the Urban & Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. He is coauthor of “Place Matters: Metropolitics for the 21st Century” and “The Next Los Angeles: The Struggle for a Livable City.”

Dr. Mark Maier is professor of economics at Glendale Community College and is the coauthor of “Introducing Economics” and “The Data Game: Controversies in Social Science Statistics.” Both of them live in Pasadena.

We’d like to acknowledge the help of Chiaki Ma, an Occidental College student, for her research assistance.



(50 Largest Cities in California)

City Average Household Income
Sunnyvale $151,042
Fremont $143,043
San Francisco $137,761
Thousand Oaks $134,885
Santa Clara $129,755
Irvine $125,316
San Jose $124,356
Huntington Beach $115,884
Simi Valley $114,788
Pasadena $109,871
Santa Clarita $109,104
Torrance $107,980
Orange $107,415
Elk Grove $104,270
Rancho Cucamonga $100,140
Roseville $99,930
San Diego $98,632
Fullerton $95,697
Concord $93,929
Oakland $93,849
Hayward $92,906
Corona $91,095
Chula Vista $87,894
Santa Rosa $86,806
Los Angeles $86,758
Glendale $86,639
Anaheim $85,960
Oxnard $83,206
Oceanside $82,243
Fontana $80,700
Long Beach $80,613
Garden Grove $79,981
Vallejo $78,413
Bakersfield $78,129
Riverside $78,001
Escondido $77,041
Sacramento $74,469
Visalia $73,305
Santa Ana $73,156
Palmdale $72,275
Moreno Valley $72,005
Modesto $71,393
Ontario $69,644
Salinas $69,026
Pomona $67,948
Stockton $67,393
Fresno $63,830
Lancaster $63,312
Victorville $61,558
San Bernardino $53,310

Source: U.S. Census, American Community Survey, 2013-2017, Five-year estimates




(50 Largest Cities in California)

City Share of Total Income of

Richest 5 Percent of the


Share of Total Income of

Poorest 20 Percent of the Population

Ratio of Share of Income of Richest 5 Percent/Poorest 20 Percent
San Francisco 23.85 2.03 11.75
Pasadena 24.93 2.22 11.23
Los Angeles 27.06 2.52 10.74
Lancaster 19.10 1.95 9.79
Oakland 23.74 2.51 9.46
Irvine 21.27 2.44 8.72
Glendale 22.85 2.76 8.28
Fresno 22.62 2.98 7.59
Stockton 22.62 3.07 7.37
San Diego 22.16 3.14 7.06
Sacramento 21.49 3.05 7.05
Long Beach 21.56 3.12 6.91
Fullerton 20.44 3.18 6.43
Huntington Beach 22.28 3.53 6.31
Visalia 20.47 3.42 5.99
San Jose 19.08 3.22 5.93
Oceanside 19.59 3.31 5.92
Bakersfield 20.04 3.47 5.78
Sunnyvale 19.14 3.36 5.70
Thousand Oaks 20.03 3.56 5.63
Torrance 19.15 3.44 5.57
Modesto 20.09 3.62 5.55
Palmdale 19.23 3.48 5.53
Anaheim 20.00 3.64 5.49
Chula Vista 19.60 3.58 5.47
San Bernardino 19.39 3.55 5.46
Orange 20.18 3.73 5.41
Vallejo 18.20 3.38 5.38
Escondido 19.35 3.72 5.20
Victorville 17.94 3.54 5.07
Riverside 18.41 3.65 5.04
Santa Rosa 19.54 3.90 5.01
Corona 18.39 3.75 4.90
Roseville 17.59 3.60 4.89
Elk Grove 18.71 3.98 4.70
Pomona 18.26 3.92 4.66
Concord 17.99 3.93 4.58
Santa Clara 16.95 3.70 4.58
Simi Valley 18.64 4.10 4.55
Hayward 17.56 3.91 4.49
Rancho Cucamonga 17.18 3.98 4.32
Oxnard 18.71 4.55 4.11
Ontario 16.85 4.11 4.10
Garden Grove 18.48 3.77 4.09
Fremont 16.79 4.14 4.06
Santa Ana 17.74 4.62 3.84
Santa Clarita 16.47 4.32 3.81
Salinas 17.11 4.50 3.80
Fontana 16.16 4.35 3.71
Moreno Valley 16.41 4.58 3.58

Source: U.S. Census, American Community Survey, 2013-2017, Five-year estimates

Table 3



(50 Largest Cities in California)

City Share of Total Income of

Richest 20 Percent of the Population

Share of Total Income of

Poorest 20 Percent of the Population

Ratio of Share of Income of Richest 20 Percent/Poorest 20 Percent
San Francisco 53.60 2.03 26.40
Lancaster 48.49 1.95 24.87
Pasadena 53.61 2.22 24.15
Los Angeles 56.24 2.52 22.32
Oakland 53.93 2.51 21.49
Irvine 49.46 2.44 20.27
Glendale 53.19 2.76 19.27
Fresno 51.92 2.98 17.42
Stockton 51.25 3.07 16.70
Sacramento 50.14 3.05 16.44
Long Beach 50.62 3.12 16.22
San Diego 50.62 3.14 16.12
Fullerton 49.28 3.18 15.50
San Jose 47.84 3.22 14.86
Oceanside 48.27 3.31 14.58
Visalia 49.02 3.42 14.33
Sunnyvale 47.04 3.36 14.00
Huntington Beach 49.28 3.53 13.96
Bakersfield 48.28 3.47 13.91
Vallejo 46.80 3.38 13.85
Torrance 47.40 3.44 13.78
Palmdale 47.71 3.48 13.71
San Bernardino 48.19 3.55 13.57
Thousand Oaks 48.05 3.56 13.50
Modesto 48.09 3.62 13.28
Victorville 46.83 3.54 13.23
Anaheim 48.13 3.64 13.22
Chula Vista 46.90 3.58 13.10
Escondido 47.68 3.72 12.82
Riverside 46.63 3.65 12.78
Orange 47.44 3.73 12.72
Roseville 45.39 3.60 12.61
Garden Grove 46.98 3.77 12.46
Corona 45.81 3.75 12.22
Santa Clara 44.88 3.70 12.13
Santa Rosa 47.24 3.90 12.11
Pomona 46.20 3.92 11.79
Hayward 45.57 3.91 11.65
Concord 45.48 3.93 11.57
Elk Grove 44.92 3.98 11.29
Rancho Cucamonga 44.57 3.98 11.20
Simi Valley 45.65 4.10 11.13
Ontario 44.38 4.11 10.80
Fremont 43.78 4.14 10.57
Santa Clarita 43.93 4.32 10.17
Oxnard 45.92 4.55 10.09
Salinas 45.18 4.50 10.04
Fontana 43.50 4.35 10.00
Santa Ana 45.70 4.62 9.90
Moreno Valley 43.42 4.58 9.48

Source: U.S. Census, American Community Survey, 2013-2017, Five-year estimates

Table 4



City Average Income of Richest

5 Percent

Average Income of Poorest

20 Percent

Ratio of Richest 5 Percent to Poorest 20 Percent
San Francisco $657,116 $14,007 46.91
Pasadena $547,864 $12,153 45.08
Los Angeles $469,520 $10,923 42.98
Lancaster $241,837 $6,164 39.23
Oakland $445,610 $11,778 37.83
Irvine $533,009 $15,260 34.93
Glendale $395,892 $11,962 33.10
Fresno $288,823 $9,511 30.37
Stockton $304,864 $10,343 29.48
San Diego $437,061 $15,455 28.28
Sacramento $320,103 $11,344 28.22
Long Beach $347,561 $12,583 27.62
Fullerton $391,301 $15,205 25.74
Huntington Beach $516,459 $20,469 25.23
Visalia $300,146 $12,535 23.94
Oceanside $322,242 $13,554 23.77
San Jose $474,623 $20,018 23.71
Bakersfield $313,166 $13,544 23.12
Sunnyvale $578,178 $25,353 22.81
Thousand Oaks $540,433 $23,958 22.56
Torrance $413,677 $18,555 22.29
Modesto $286,833 $12,911 22.22
Palmdale $278,011 $12,580 22.10
Anaheim $343,768 $15,650 21.97
Chula Vista $344,530 $15,728 21.91
San Bernardino $206,700 $9,473 21.82
Orange $433,647 $20,012 21.67
Vallejo $285,374 $13,242 21.55
Escondido $298,157 $14,310 20.84
Victorville $220,857 $10,907 20.25
Riverside $287,277 $14,234 20.18
Santa Rosa $339,300 $16,898 20.08
Corona $335,137 $17,062 19.64
Garden Grove $295,643 $15,060 19.63
Roseville $351,483 $17,967 19.56
Elk Grove $390,132 $20,744 18.81
Pomona $248,241 $13,272 18.70
Santa Clara $439,870 $24,000 18.33
Concord $337,871 $18,439 18.32
Simi Valley $427,957 $23,498 18.21
Hayward $326,245 $18,147 17.98
Rancho Cucamonga $344,046 $19,904 17.29
Oxnard $311,332 $18,922 16.45
Ontario $234,711 $14,292 16.42
Fremont $480,509 $29,547 16.26
Santa Ana $259,518 $16,907 15.35
Santa Clarita $359,374 $23,516 15.28
Salinas $236,143 $15,548 15.19
Fontana $260,901 $17,550 14.87
Moreno Valley $236,320 $16,487 14.33

Source: U.S. Census, American Community Survey, 2013-2017, Five-year estimates




City Average Income of Richest

20 Percent

Average Income of Poorest

20 Percent

Ratio of Richest 20 Percent to Poorest 20 Percent
San Francisco $369,196 $14,007 26.36
Lancaster $153,518 $6,164 24.91
Pasadena $294,533 $12,153 24.24
Los Angeles $243,982 $10,923 22.34
Oakland $253,076 $11,778 21.49
Irvine $309,883 $15,260 20.31
Glendale $230,426 $11,962 19.26
Fresno $165,718 $9,511 17.42
Stockton $172,705 $10,343 16.70
Sacramento $186,688 $11,344 16.46
Long Beach $204,029 $12,583 16.21
San Diego $249,643 $15,455 16.15
Fullerton $235,815 $15,205 15.51
San Jose $297,432 $20,018 14.86
Oceanside $198,527 $13,554 14.65
Visalia $179,669 $12,535 14.33
Sunnyvale $355,260 $25,353 14.01
Huntington Beach $285,553 $20,469 13.95
Bakersfield $188,613 $13,544 13.93
Vallejo $183,470 $13,242 13.86
Torrance $255,925 $18,555 13.79
Palmdale $172,435 $12,580 13.71
San Bernardino $128,447 $9,473 13.56
Thousand Oaks $324,094 $23,958 13.53
Modesto $171,657 $12,911 13.30
Anaheim $206,886 $15,650 13.22
Victorville $144,150 $10,907 13.22
Chula Vista $206,136 $15,728 13.11
Escondido $183,673 $14,310 12.84
Riverside $181,854 $14,234 12.78
Orange $254,810 $20,012 12.73
Roseville $226,781 $17,967 12.62
Garden Grove $187,877 $15,060 12.48
Corona $208,677 $17,062 12.23
Santa Clara $291,185 $24,000 12.13
Santa Rosa $205,040 $16,898 12.13
Pomona $156,970 $13,272 11.83
Hayward $211,677 $18,147 11.66
Concord $213,598 $18,439 11.58
Elk Grove $234,196 $20,744 11.29
Rancho Cucamonga $223,165 $19,904 11.21
Simi Valley $261,992 $23,498 11.15
Ontario $154,530 $14,292 10.81
Fremont $313,143 $29,547 10.60
Santa Clarita $239,632 $23,516 10.19
Oxnard $191,060 $18,922 10.10
Salinas $155,929 $15,548 10.03
Fontana $175,507 $17,550 10.00
Santa Ana $167,175 $16,907 9.89
Moreno Valley $156,338 $16,487 9.48

Source: U.S. Census, American Community Survey, 2013-2017, Five-year estimates

Table 6


2013 AND 2017


Number of Households


Percent of Total



Number of Households


Percent of Total


Households with incomes below $25,000 10,582 19.2 percent 10,501 19.3 percent
Households with incomes between

$25,000- $100,000

25,308 45.9 percent 23,287 42.6 percent
Households with incomes between

$100,000 – $200,000

13,173 23.9 percent 13,917 25.4 percent
Households with incomes over $200,000 6,047 11.0 percent 7,029 12.6 percent
Poverty rate 13.2 percent 15.5 percent

Source: U.S. Census, American Community Survey 5-year Estimates

Table 7



Earning less than $15/hour Number of workers Percentage of categorized
Total categorized 19,730 100 percent
Full-time, year-round 11,658 59 percent
Part-time, year-round 5,139 26 percent
Part-time, part-year 2,933 15 percent
Total including not categorized 23,117

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample including only workers with $500 or more income in the survey year. Los Angeles Economic Roundtable analysis.

Table 8



Sector Number of workers Number of workers earning less than $15/hour Percentage of workers earning less than $15/hour
Accommodation and food service 4,931 3,362 68 percent
Other services (except public) 3,525 1,947 55 percent
Retail trade 5,602 2,960 53 percent
Administrative support and waste management 2,598 1,334 51 percent
Construction 3,150 1,342 43 percent
Transportation and warehouse 1,756 658 37 percent
Arts, entertainment and recreation 2,434 876 36 percent
Health care and social assistance 10,260 3,425 33 percent
Educational services 9,569 2,689 28 percent
Manufacturing 4,111 935 23 percent
Public administration 2,875 483 17 percent
Information, finance, real estate, professional, scientific and technical 17,431 2,559 15 percent

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample including only workers with $500 or more income in the survey year. Los Angeles Economic Roundtable analysis.

Table 9




Year 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Rent $2200 $2400 $2650 $2590 $2700 $2900
Annual Change 9.1 percent 10.4 percent -2.2 percent 4.2 percent 7.4 percent
Total Change 31.8 percent

Source: Zillow

Table 10



Income Number of Owner Households

Paying Over 30 Percent for Housing

Percentage of Owner Households Paying Over 30 Percent for Housing Number of Renter Households Paying Over 30 Percent for Housing Percentage of Renter Households paying Over 30 Percent for Housing
Less than $20,000 1,532 90.5 5,499 93.3
$20,000 to $34,999 919 73.8 3,791 96.2
$35,000 to $49,999 767 62.7 2,586 83.5
$50,000 to $74,999 1,593 56.5 2,975 52.4
$75,000 or more 3,337 20.0 1,174 10.7
Total 8,148 34.1 16,025 51.9

Source: Table B25106 Tenure by Housing Costs as a Percentage of Household Income, U.S. Census, American Community Survey, 2013-2017, Five-year estimates

Table 11

Rent Burdens for Households with Workers Earning Less than and Over $15/ hour


Number of households; wages less than $15/hour Percent of households with wages less than $15/hour
Severe rent burden (above 50 percent of income) 4,928 31 percent
Rent burden 31percent – 50 percent of income 5,034 31 percent
Rent burden 30 percent or less of income 6,047 38 percent

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample including only workers with $500 or more income in the survey year. Los Angeles Economic Roundtable analysis.

Table 12


Number of families with wages less than $15/hour Percentage of families with wages less than $15/hour
Not crowded 13,539 80 percent
Overcrowded (1.01 -1.50 people per room) 2,328 14 percent
Severely overcrowded (above 1.51 people per room) 1,012 6 percent

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample including only workers with $500 or more income in the survey year. Economic Roundtable analysis.

Table 13


Household Income Number of Owner Households Percentage of Owner Households Number of Renter Households Percentage of Renter Households
Less than $5,000 594 2.4 1,879 6.0
$5,000 to $9,999 245 1.0 1,151 3.7
$10,000 to $14,999 483 2.0 2,559 8.3
$15,000 to $19,999 603 2.5 1,257 4.0
$20,000 to $24,999 375 1.6 1,355 4.3
$25,000 to $34,999 870 3.6 2,670 8.6
$35,000 to $49,999 1,223 5.1 3,156 10.2
$50,000 to $74,999 2,816 11.7 5,763 18.7
$75,000 to $99,999 2,988 12.5 3,801 12.3
$100,000 to $149,999 4,940 20.7 4,038 13.1
$150,000 or more 8,735 36.6 3,233 10.5
Total 23,872 30,862
Median household income $115,074 $55,752

Source: Table B25118 Tenure by Household Income, U.S. Census, American Community Survey, 2013-2017, Five-year estimates

Table 14


Household Income  

Number of Households


Percentage Owner Households in Income Group Percentage Renter Households in Income Group
Less than $5,000 2,473 24.0 86.0
$5,000 to $9,999 1,396 17.5 82.5
$10,000 to $14,999 3,042 15.8 84.2
$15,000 to $19,999 1,860 32.4 67.6
$20,000 to $24,999 1,730 21.6 78.4
$25,000 to $34,999 3,540 24.5 75.5
$35,000 to $49,999 4,379 27.9 72.1
$50,000 to $74,999 8,579 32.8 67.2
$75,000 to $99,999 6,789 44.0 56.0
$100,000 to $149,999 8,978 55.0 45.0
$150,000 or more 11,968 73.0 27.0
Total 54,732 23,872 (43.6 percent) 30,862 (56.4 percent)

Source: Table B25106 Tenure by Housing Cots as a Percentage of Household Income, U.S. Census, American Community Survey, 2013-2017, Five-year estimates


[1] Edward Wolff, Household Wealth Trends in the United States, 1962 to 2016: Has Middle Class Wealth Recovered? Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research, November 2018.

[2] In these tables, we use data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey 2013-2017 5-year estimates.  The data be found on the American FactFinder page of the U.S. Census Bureau website.

[3] Sara Kimberlin and Amy Rose, “Making Ends Meet: How Much Does It Cost to Support a Family in California?” California Budget and Policy Center, December 2017.

[4] H.G. Para, John T. Self, David Njite, and Tiffany, King, “Why Restaurants Fail,” Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, Volume 46, Number 3, August 2005.