Bay Area

POPULATION: 8,034,323

COUNTIES: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma

The Bay Area’s population makes up 23 percent of the state population. This region is home to twenty-six California Community Colleges (CCC), five California State Universities (CSU), and two University of California (UC) undergraduate campuses. While high school graduation, A-G completion, and college-going rates for this region surpass the state average, college access differs amongst residents.

  • For example, 0 percent of foster youth complete A-G courses or enroll in a CSU or UC, and only 32 percent enroll in a community college compared to 47 percent of students with disabilities.
  • Similarly, while bachelor’s degree attainment is 49 percent higher than the state average, White and Asian Californians earn more than twice as many bachelor’s degrees per person as other Bay Area residents.

Though the overall employment rate and ability to earn a living wage surpass the state average, racial disparities are also apparent in workforce opportunities.

  • Bay Area’s Native American and Alaska Native residents are much less likely to be employed, earn a living wage, or own a home compared to other racial and ethnic groups, but are more likely to work over 40 hours a week.

The region should celebrate its rich diversity, which is 12 percent higher than the statewide average, by ensuring all Bay Area residents have equitable access to opportunities.

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Bay Area Factsheet Full Report Technical Appendix
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Central Coast

POPULATION: 2,081,587

COUNTIES: Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura

Famous for its oceanside views, the Central Coast makes up 5 percent of the state population. This region is home to eight California Community Colleges (CCC), three California State Universities (CSU), and one University of California (UC) undergraduate campus.

  • Though 7 percent more high school graduates go directly to college compared to the statewide average, not all students have equal access to a university.
  • Asian high school graduates in this region are most likely to go to a UC (32%) compared to only 1–7 percent of students in other racial and ethnic groups.
  • Moreover, bachelor’s degree attainment, which is 17 percent lower than the statewide average, also varies by race and ethnicity.
  • Only 10 percent of Native American or Alaska Native residents have a bachelor’s degree, which is one-sixth the rate of the Central Coast’s Asian residents.

Furthermore, Native American or Alaska Native residents in this region are 7 percent less likely to be employed compared to the region’s average and are less likely to earn a living wage.

  • However, they are most likely to work over 40 hours a week compared to other racial and ethnic groups.
  • Though Latinx residents have a high employment rate (96%), their health insurance rate is 5 percent lower than the statewide average.
  • Central Coast residents are slightly more likely to own a home compared to the statewide average.
  • However, only 36 percent of Black residents own a home despite 62 percent earning a living wage, showing a disparate opportunity to build wealth through homeownership.
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Central Coast Factsheet Full Report Technical Appendix
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Central Sierra

POPULATION: 189,687

COUNTIES: Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, Inyo, Mariposa, Mono, Tuolumne

Central Sierra’s population makes up less than 1 percent of the state population. Though the region spans seven counties, Central Sierra is home to only one public higher education institution (Columbia Community College).

  • The region’s high school graduation, A-G completion, and college-going rates are roughly 20 to 40 percent lower than the statewide average with Black and Latinx students having the largest percentage of high school graduates who do not enroll in college (80% and 71%, respectively).
  • Bachelor’s degree attainment rates across all racial and ethnic groups are 29 to 80 percent lower than the statewide average, with only 4 percent of Latinx residents earning a bachelor’s degree.

The employment rate and homeownership rate surpass the statewide average for most racial and ethnic groups, but opportunity is inconsistent.

  • Latinx residents have an employment rate of 95 percent, but only 51 percent earn a living wage, and 36 percent own a home.

Residents in this region are less likely to have health insurance compared to the statewide average, especially Pacific Islander and Black residents (48% and 62%, respectively).

Eighty-two percent of communities in this region are in a grocery desert compared to the statewide average of 22 percent, and 65 percent are in a bank desert compared to the statewide average of 29 percent.

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Central Sierra Factsheet Full Report Technical Appendix
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Imperial

POPULATION: 182,844

COUNTIES: Imperial

Imperial County’s population makes up less than 1 percent of the state population. This region is home to one California Community College (Imperial Valley College).

  • High school graduation and college-going rates surpass the state average, though Latinx and White high school graduates are the only racial/ethnic groups with enough individuals to report their college-going outcomes separately.
  • Imperial’s bachelor’s degree attainment rate (18%) is roughly half the statewide average of 35 percent, with 17 percent of Latinx adults and 23 percent of White adults having completed a bachelor’s or higher degree.

Employment rate, ability to earn a living wage, and number of job openings with a living wage all fall below the statewide average. However, the number of residents who work overtime surpasses the statewide average by 12 percent.

  • Compared to other racial and ethnic groups, Latinx and Native American or Alaska Native residents are least likely to be employed, earn a living wage, or have health insurance, though the region’s health insurance rate as a whole matches the statewide average.
  • Latinx residents are also least likely to own a home compared to other groups, though the region’s home ownership rate surpasses the state average.
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Imperial Factsheet Full Report Technical Appendix
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Inland Empire

POPULATION: 4,581,109

COUNTIES: Riverside, San Bernardino

Inland Empire’s population makes up 12 percent of the state population. This region is home to twelve California Community Colleges (CCC), one California State University (CSU), and one University of California (UC) campus.

  • High school graduation, A-G completion, and college-going rates for this region all fall below the state average.
  • While 59 percent of high school graduates go directly to college, only roughly 35 percent of English language learners, students with disabilities, and foster youth fall into this category.
  • While associate’s degree attainment surpasses the state average, bachelor’s degree attainment is 40 percent less than the state average.
  • Only 11 percent of Latinx residents hold a bachelor’s degree compared to 30 percent of White residents.
  • Forty-two percent of adults in this region express an interest in pursuing postsecondary education compared to the state average of 39 percent.

While Inland Empire’s employment rate falls just below the state average, more residents are likely to earn a living wage. However, the ability to earn a living wage, have health insurance, or own a home all differ by racial and ethnic group.

  • Ninety-three percent of Latinx residents are employed, but 53 percent earn a living wage, 89 percent have health insurance, and 56 percent own a home.
  • In contrast, 95 percent of White residents are employed, with 73 percent earning a living wage, 95 percent having health insurance, and 72 percent owning a home.

Employment alone does not secure residents’ well-being or ability to build wealth through homeownership.

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Inland Empire Factsheet Full Report Technical Appendix
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Los Angeles

POPULATION: 10,162,069

COUNTIES: Los Angeles

Los Angeles County, home to the state’s most populous city, makes up 27 percent of the state population. This region is home to twenty-one California Community Colleges (CCC), five California State Universities (CSU), and one University of California (UC) undergraduate campus.

  • However, more students in the region meet eligibility requirements than the campus can admit. High school graduation and college-going rates are slightly lower than the state average and differ across racial and ethnic groups.
  • Though 63 percent of high school graduates enroll in college, only 30 percent of Native American and Alaska Native students fall into this category.
  • Attainment rates are 3 percent lower than the state average, but White and Asian residents are nearly twice as likely to hold a bachelor’s degree compared to other racial and ethnic groups.

Despite meeting the state’s average for employment rate, Los Angeles County’s residents are 6 percent less likely to earn a living wage compared to the statewide average. Such disparities create inconsistencies in opportunity.

  • While 88 percent of Native Americans and Alaska Native residents are employed, 7 percent less than the state average, only 44 percent earn a living wage.
  • Similar rates exist for Pacific Islander and Latinx residents who have much higher employment rates (92% and 95%, respectively) compared to their ability to earn a living wage (43% and 44%, respectively).

Homeownership rates for the region are 16 percent less than the statewide average, and who owns a home differs by race and ethnicity.

  • More than 50 percent of White and Asian residents are homeowners compared to 32 percent of Black residents.

Los Angeles’ residents are also less likely to have health insurance than Californians as a whole.

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Los Angeles Factsheet Full Report Technical Appendix
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North-Far North

POPULATION: 702,906

COUNTIES: Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Del Norte, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Plumas, Siskiyou, Sierra, Shasta

California’s North-Far North region’s population makes up roughly 2 percent of the state population. This region is home to six California Community Colleges and one California State University (CSU).

  • Only half of high school graduates in this region go directly to college, with few students attending a CSU (3%) and even fewer attending a UC campuses (1%).
  • Bachelor’s degree attainment rates are 28 percent lower than the statewide average. Black and Latinx students in particular are less likely to go directly to college or earn a bachelor’s degree compared to other students.

Still, the employment rate surpasses the statewide average of 95 percent for most racial and ethnic groups.

  • However, Native American and Alaska Native residents are much less likely to be employed.
  • Nearly two-thirds of residents earn a living wage, similar to the state average, but this proportion differs dramatically across racial and ethnic groups.

Similarly, homeownership rates are higher in the North-Far North but also differ by race and income, demonstrating disparate opportunity to build wealth through homeownership.

Black residents, for example, have a high employment rate (98%) and the greatest likelihood of earning a living wage (68%), but only 45 percent own a home.

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North-Far North Factsheet Full Report Technical Appendix
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Orange

POPULATION: 3,189,883

COUNTIES: Orange

Orange County’s population makes up 8 percent of the state population. This region is home to nine California Community Colleges (CCC), one California State University (CSU), and one University of California (UC) undergraduate campus.

  • Orange County’s high school graduation, A-G course completion, and college-going rates all surpass the statewide average, but vary across racial and ethnic groups.
  • On the whole, Asian high school graduates and residents do well in postsecondary education and in the workforce. They are roughly 20 percentage points more likely to attend a UC compared to other racial and ethnic groups and have a bachelor’s degree attainment rate of 62 percent. However, these rates are much lower for other racial and ethnic groups.
  • Though 76 percent go to college, only 44 percent of Native American and Alaska Native students fall into this category.
  • While the region’s bachelor’s degree attainment is 20 percent higher than the state average, only 16 percent of Latinx residents hold a four-year degree. In fact, a majority of Latinx residents have no college experience (59%), greater than all other groups.

Employment rates for all residents are similar to the regional average; yet, not everyone earns a living wage or owns a home.

  • While 94 percent of Native American and Alaska Native residents are employed, only 39 percent earn a living wage and only 56 percent own a home.
  • Similar disparities exist for Latinx residents, who also have the lowest health insurance rate (7% lower than the regional average).
  • Though employment rates are high, it does not necessarily secure residents’ well-being or ability to build wealth through homeownership.

Given the region’s higher rate of diversity (4% above the state average), it’s crucial to ensure equitable opportunities for all residents.

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Orange Factsheet Full Report Technical Appendix
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Sacramento Tahoe

POPULATION: 2,498,369

COUNTIES: El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Yolo, Yuba

Home to California’s capital, the Sacramento-Tahoe region’s population makes up 6 percent of the state population. This region has eight California Community Colleges (CCC), one California State University (CSU), and one University of California (UC) institution.

  • High school graduation, A-G course completion, and college-going rates are similar to the state average. However, college access within the region varies by race and ethnicity.
  • More than twice as many Native American and Alaska Native students have no college experience than the region’s average of 33 percent.
  • While associate’s degree attainment surpasses the state average, bachelor’s degree attainment falls 6 percent short, with Asian and White residents most likely to hold bachelor’s degrees (49% and 38%, respectively).
  • In addition, most residents who complete a certificate do so in a service field.

Though the region’s employment rate and ability to earn a living wage either meet or surpass the state average, opportunities here also vary across racial and ethnic groups within the region and are inconsistent within groups.

  • Though 96 percent of White residents are employed, only 75 percent earn a living wage, and 68 percent own a home.
  • In contrast, only 89 percent of Black residents are employed, with 52 percent earning a living wage and 33 percent owning a home.

Employment rates may be relatively high, but employment alone does not guarantee a living wage or ability to build wealth through homeownership. These disparities exist despite the region having higher-than-average rates for diversity, health insurance, and homeownership.

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Sacramento Tahoe Factsheet Full Report Technical Appendix
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San Diego

POPULATION: 3,338,661

COUNTIES: San Diego

The San Diego region’s population makes up 8 percent of the state population. San Diego is home to eight California Community Colleges (CCC), two California State Universities (CSU), and one University of California (UC) undergraduate campus.

  • Though high school graduation rates are lower than the state average, a larger proportion of students in this region go directly to college compared with students across the state.
  • Regional attainment rates for associate’s and bachelor’s degrees either meet or surpass the state average, but are varied across groups.
  • While 63 percent of Asian residents hold a bachelor’s degree, only 18 percent of Latinx residents do.

Despite meeting or surpassing the state’s employment rate and ability to earn a living wage, opportunity is uneven.

  • While nearly all residents are employed, the ability to earn a living wage or own a home differs across racial and ethnic groups.
  • Ninety-five percent of Latinx residents are employed, but only 42 percent earn a living wage, only 37 percent own a home, and only 87 percent have health insurance.
  • Similar disparities exist for Black residents who also have higher employment rates than their ability to earn a living wage, own a home, or have health insurance.
  • Though the region’s employment rate meets the statewide average, it does not necessarily secure residents’ well-being or ability to build wealth through homeownership.
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San Diego Factsheet Full Report Technical Appendix
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San Joaquin

POPULATION: 4,219,489

COUNTIES: Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tulare

San Joaquin Valley’s population makes up 11 percent of the state population. This region is home to thirteen California Community Colleges (CCC), three California State Universities (CSU), and one University of California (UC) institution.

  • However, more students in the region meet eligibility requirements than the campus can admit. While high school graduation rates match the state average (85%), fewer high school students go directly to college (66%), and opportunity differs across racial and ethnic groups.
  • Community college’s popularity is relatively similar across different demographic groups; however, 14 percent of Asian students attend a UC compared to 0 percent of Native American and Alaska Native students.
  • Associate’s degree attainment matches the statewide average, but bachelor’s degree attainment is nearly half the statewide average with dramatic differences by race and ethnicity.
  • Only 8 percent of Latinx residents hold a bachelor’s degree compared to 32 percent of Asian residents. Forty-six percent of adults in this region express an interest in enrolling in college, especially Black and Latinx adults (72% and 65%, respectively).

San Joaquin Valley has a lower employment rate and opportunity to earn a living wage compared to the state. While most residents are employed, the ability to earn a living wage or own a home differs by race and ethnicity.

  • Asian residents have an employment rate of 94 percent, but only 62 percent earn a living wage, and 59 percent own a home.
  • Opportunity remains inconsistent for White residents, who have the highest homeownership rates and likelihood of earning a living wage.
  • While 94 percent of White residents are employed, only 73 percent earn a living wage, and 67 percent own a home.
  • Employment alone does not necessarily secure residents’ well-being or ability to build wealth through homeownership.

The region’s health insurance rate falls below the state average with only 90 percent of Latinx residents having health insurance compared to 95 percent of White and Pacific Islander residents.

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San Joaquin Factsheet Full Report Technical Appendix
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Upper Sacramento Valley

POPULATION: 355,726

COUNTIES: Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Tehama, Trinity

The Upper Sacramento Valley’s population makes up less than 1 percent of the state population. This region has one California Community College (CCC) and one California State University (CSU). Students attending a college in this region are more likely to attend a CSU (55%) compared to a CCC (45%).

  • High school graduation, A-G course completion, and college-going rates all fall below the state average.
  • English language learners and students with disabilities show lower enrollment in a public university compared to other groups.
  • While associate’s degree attainment surpasses the state average, bachelor’s degree attainment falls 37 percent below and varies by racial and ethnic groups.
  • Latinx residents are nearly twice as likely to have some college and nearly five times as likely to have no college as to have a bachelor’s degree (12%).
  • In contrast, 42 percent of Asian residents have a bachelor’s degree.

Though the employment rate mirrors the state average, opportunity is inconsistent.

  • Ninety-six percent of Latinx residents are employed, but only 45 percent earn a living wage, and 41 percent own a home.
  • Though the region’s health insurance rate of 94 percent surpasses the state average, only 84 percent of Black residents have health insurance.
  • Asian residents have the lowest employment rate in the region (93%), but have a higher likelihood of owning a home (44%) and having health insurance (92%).
  • Employment alone does not secure residents’ well-being or ability to build wealth through homeownership.
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Upper Sacramento Valley Factsheet Full Report Technical Appendix
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Statewide

POPULATION: 39.51 million

California is home to a large and robust public higher education system and the fifth largest economy in the world, yet opportunities to thrive differ based on race, ethnicity, gender, and place of residence.

  • Asian and White Californians tend to have the highest levels of educational attainment, employment rates, and incomes. Native American and Alaska Native residents are less likely to access and succeed in the state’s public higher education system or be employed.
  • While 95 percent of Asians graduate from high school, 65 percent of Native American and Alaska Native students do. Overall, the state’s high school graduation rate is five percent below the Los Angeles region’s, which has the highest average of 89 percent.
  • Sixty-one percent of Asian Californians hold a bachelor’s degree compared to 17 percent of Native American and Alaska Native Californians.
  • Latinx Californians are the least likely to have a degree, with 15 percent holding a bachelor’s degree.
  • Unsurprisingly, most students—especially Latinx and Native American and Alaska Native students—attend community college, with many completing degree programs in Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences.

Ninety-five percent of Californians are employed. However, employment alone does not guarantee a living wage or ability to build wealth through homeownership, as only 64 percent of Californians earn a living wage, and slightly more than half (55%) of Californians own a home. These outcomes all differ across regions and by race and ethnicity.

  • Residents of Central Sierra are most likely to own a home (74%), and residents of Los Angeles are least likely to own a home (46%).
  • Ninety-six percent of Asian Californians are employed, with 66 percent earning a living wage and 59 percent owning a home.
  • In contrast, 92 percent of Native American and Alaska Native Californians are employed with only 45 percent earning a living wage and 44 percent owning a home.
  • Black Californians also have an employment rate of 92 percent and are least likely of all racial/ethnic groups to own a home (33%).

Nearly all Californians have health insurance, but disparities between groups exist.

  • Eighty-eight percent of Latinx Californians have health insurance compared to 96 percent of White Californians.
  • Bay Area residents are the most likely to have health insurance (95%) compared to North-Far North residents who are least likely to have health insurance (90%).
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Statewide Factsheet Focus on Race and Ethnicity Full Report Technical Appendix
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College readiness and access are the first steps to college success. Access to a rigorous college preparatory curriculum is not universal, and differences exist in who goes to college and where they go based on demographic characteristics, such as racial/ethnic groups. Homeless, foster youth, English language learners, and students with disabilities also face tremendous barriers in accessing and succeeding in college.

Moreover, the postsecondary education system’s focus on the traditional student’s pathway (one who matriculates directly to college) leaves limited opportunities for older adults interested in higher education to successfully complete a postsecondary credential.

The inequitable access to postsecondary education leads to significant differences in the region’s educational attainment by race/ethnicity.

What Is the highest level of education attained?

What does college access look like for high school students and where do they go?

*High school students must complete a set of courses known as “A-G” to be eligible for admission to the California State University and University of California.

What is the availability of advanced college prep courses?

How is college access for adults?

About Colleges in this Region

About Colleges in the State

Where do students in this region go to college?

Where do students in the state go to college?

What does student retention, transfer, and completion look like?

How racially diverse are the colleges?

How many communities in the region are in a university desert?

A university desert is the percentage of communities in the region without a public university or college with acceptance rates greater than 60%.

What percent of graduates receive awards in high-wage, high-demand fields?

Workforce participation and employment rates, which vary by race/ethnicity, are key measures that outline opportunities for economic mobility. In some instances, despite working over 40 hours a week, some Californians still struggle to earn a living wage. Access to high road jobs is critical to promoting a high quality of life and economic vibrancy.

How many people work and how much do they work?

How much do people earn?

Though it is impossible to quantify prosperity, markers like health insurance, homeownership, and economic development signify pathways to prosperity. Mechanisms that reflect stability, build wealth, promote health, and enrich culture shape a community’s ability to thrive. Similarly, wage gaps and communities without critical businesses demonstrate areas that need additional attention for equitable outcomes.

How well can residents financially thrive?

What percent of residents rely on public assistance?

What percent of Californians have health insurance?

How many minutes do residents spend commuting to work each way?

what are California communities' average racial diversity score?

What percent of communities lack access to essential businesses?

Business deserts are defined as the percentage of communities within a region that lack a particular business.