The federal poverty level, which sets the same income threshold according to household size for the entire continental United States, is $23,850 in 2014 for a household of four. By this definition, approximately 16 percent of Californians live in poverty.
Other measures attempt to account for variations in the cost of living from state to state. As part of the 2010 U.S. Census, a new supplemental poverty measure was calculated that incorporated cost of living measures such as tax rates, assistance programs, child care expenses and medical costs. Under this alternative measure, California's poverty rate is close to 24 percent of the population.