New Tipping Point Research Presents Snapshot of Poverty Before COVID-19 Hit

From Berkeley Sociology Researchers Irene Bloemraad, Kim Voss, and Danny Schneider; and Berkeley Political Science Researcher Taeku Lee:

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Our Bay Area poverty study with U.C. Berkeley found stark disparity in months before COVID-19 outbreak. 




New Tipping Point Research Presents Snapshot of Poverty Before COVID-19 Hit



COVID-19 has shed light on the economic fragility for millions of people in the Bay Area. And yet, what we didn’t know was exactly how fragile things were before the pandemic even hit—until now. Today, we are releasing Taking Count, a new study on poverty in our region, developed in partnership with the University of California, Berkeley.

Our goal was to gain a better understanding of how many people are living in poverty in our region and the trade-offs people are making to get by. Of course, what we didn’t know when we started was that our research would paint a picture of what life looked like before the impact of a pandemic.

Here are just a few of the startling learnings:

  • Half of Bay Area residents can’t pay their bills at least once during the year.
  • No matter their income, Black and Latinx residents face far greater challenges to accumulating wealth and providing for their families.
  • Low-wage workers don’t have access to benefits provided to higher-wage workers such as sick leave and the ability to work from home—which prove to be essential during times of uncertainty.

Taking Count establishes a critical baseline for the number of people experiencing poverty in the Bay Area just months before the outbreak of COVID-19. The data tells a haunting story of fragility and racial disparity at a time when unemployment was low and the economy was strong, shedding light into what’s to come in the months and years ahead.

Read the Executive Summary here, and stay tuned for detailed reports in the weeks ahead.



The Numbers



Low-Wage Workers don't have access to sick leave + flexible work schedules









For 15 years, Tipping Point has invested in the most promising interventions to break the cycle of poverty in the Bay Area. Because our board covers our costs, 100% of donations go where they're needed most. 

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