Billionaires Aplenty in a State Ravaged by Poverty

Friday, September 21, 2012

More than one-fifth of the Forbes 400’s richest Americans live in California, not far from three of the nation’s five poorest regions.

Fresno, Modesto and the Bakersfield-Delano area are among the top five U.S. regions with people living under the poverty line, according to U.S. Census figures, an area that is home to the state’s dominant $35 billion agriculture industry.

That $35 billion is $6 billion less than Oracle owner Larry Ellison’s net worth of $41 billion, according to Forbes. Ellison checks in at #3 on the Top 400 list behind Bill Gates ($66 billion) and Warren Buffett ($46 billion). If the Walton family’s Wal-Mart assets were totaled, the four entries (#6-9) would dominate the rankings with a net worth of $107.1 billion. Eighty-seven Californians are on the list.

One in six Californians (16.6%) statewide lived in poverty in 2011, compared to 15.8% the year before. Fresno was the poorest county in the state (and second poorest in the nation), with 25.8% of its residents below the poverty line and 18% surviving on food stamps. The state food stamp average is 8%.

As of 2011, the top 1% of America’s wealthy owned 40% the nation’s assets, took home 24% of its national income, owned half of the country’s stocks and bonds and held only 5% of its personal debt.


#3 Larry Ellison, $41 billion (Oracle)

#13 Sergey Brin, $20.3 billion (Google)

#13 Larry Page, $20.3 billion (Google)

#24 Donald Bren, $13 billion (Real Estate)

#28 Laurene Powell Jobs & family, $11 billion (Apple, Disney)

#36 Mark Zuckerberg, $9.4 billion (Facebook)

#45 Eric Schmidt, $7.5 billion (Google)

#47 Patrick Soon-Schiong, $7.3 billion (Pharmaceuticals)

#55 Eli Broad, $6.3 billion (Investments)

#57 David Geffen, $5.6 billion (Movies, music)

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Calif. Central Valley Cities Among Poorest in US (by Gosia Wozniacka, Associated Press)

Census: Fresno Among Poorest Large Metro Areas (by Kurtis Alexander, Fresno Bee)

The Top 5 Facts about America’s Richest 1% (by Stacy Curtin, Yahoo! Finance)

Census Bureau Releases 2011 American Community Survey Estimates (U.S. Census Bureau)

The Forbes 400: The Richest People in the America (Forbes)

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