Workers are gaining in median wages, according to the Census Bureau, but others are falling behind as poverty rates increase. Here commuters use the Green Line. Photo credit: wikipedia.org

The median household income in San Diego County last year was $61,426, in the top 10 of the nation’s major metropolitan areas, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Thursday.

The figure places the region ninth among the nation’s 25 largest metropolitan areas. First was Washington, D.C., at $90,149, according to the agency’s American Community Survey.

The U.S. median household income last year was $52,250, about $335 ahead of the year before.

California gained by 1.7 percent to reach $60,190, the report said. San Diego’s figure represented an increase of 0.9 percent from 2012.

The survey also recorded the percentage of the population living under the federal poverty line, which was $11,888 for a single person, or $23,624 for a family of four in 2013.

The poverty rate in San Diego County increased from 15 percent in 2012 to 15.2 percent last year and was the 10th highest among the 25 largest metropolitan areas. By comparison, the country as a whole had a rate of 15.8 percent, while the statewide rate was 16.8 percent.

“Too many of the jobs being created in San Diego are service sector jobs that pay poverty wages,” said Peter Brownell, research director for the Center on Policy Initiatives, which crunched the local data. “Middle-class jobs have not come back, and wages have stagnated.”

Brownell helped City Council President Todd Gloria craft an ordinance that would incrementally increase San Diego’s minimum wage beginning in January. The council passed the wage hike in July.

Opponents, however, said this week that they turned in 56,000 signatures in support of a ballot measure to put the increase to a public vote. If the measure qualifies, implementation of the ordinance would be suspended until an election can be held.

Among the other findings by the CPI:

  • 21.9 percent of children in San Diego were living in poverty last year;
  • 41 percent of San Diegans living below the poverty line in 2013 had at least part-time work; and
  • El Cajon had a poverty rate of 29.7 percent, Escondido 19.6 percent, Vista 16.8 percent and Oceanside 16.7 percent.

– City News Service

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