CRS was requested to undertake a study of the San Joaquin Valley (SJV) and a comparison with another U.S. region. The eight-county San Joaquin Valley, part of California’s Central Valley, is home to 5 of the 10 most agriculturally productive counties in the United States. By a wide range of indicators, the SJV is also one of the most economically depressed regions of the United States.
This report analyzes the SJV’s counties and statistically documents the basis of current socioeconomic conditions. The report further explores the extent to which the SJV shares similarities with and differs from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) area and a 68-county Central Appalachian subregion which contains some of the most economically distressed counties in Appalachia. The report also examines the role of federal expenditures in the cities and counties of the SJV.
During the past twenty-five years, population growth rates in the SJV were significantly higher than for California or the United States and their projected growth rates over the next 20 years are also significantly higher. In 2000, the SJV also had substantially higher rates of poverty than California or the United States.
Poverty rates were also significantly higher in the SJV than in the ARC region, although the rate is somewhat lower than that of the Central Appalachian subregion. Unemployment rates in the SJV were higher than in California or the United States and the ARC area. Per capita income and average family income were higher in the SJV than in Central Appalachia, but per capita income in the SJV was lower than in the ARC region as a whole. SJV households also had higher rates of public assistance income than did Central Appalachian households. Madera County ranked among the 10 lowest per capita income Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in the United States in 2003, and the other 5 MSAs in the San Joaquin were all in the bottom 20% of all U.S. MSAs. Other indicators of social well-being discussed in the report showed that the SJV is a region of significant economic distress.