Or rather, it has the most citizens living under the poverty line. The current percentage living under the poverty line, according to Data USA, is 21.9%. This is higher than the national average of 14.7%.
This may seem surprising, considering that the county holds three of the five largest oil fields in America and provides a major portion of the agricultural products in the United States. In an interview with the Bakersfield Californian Mark Corum, outreach manager for the Community Action Partnership of Kern (CAPK), suggested that the seasonal nature of many jobs around the county contribute to this statistic. Certain fruits can only be harvest at certain times a year or every other year. Employment in the oil fields also relies heavily on supply and can be fluctuating. Once a well dries off, many employees are out of a job and must move to more fertile grounds.
Consequently, this high poverty rate affects buying power and profitability of businesses. Loss of businesses means there are even fewer economic opportunities for residents, which only raises the poverty level. This causes many to lose their homes or allow their living situation to become dangerous. Other ripple effects include greater health concerns, increased crime, and falling education standards. Active community involvement is needed to change these trends.
One way Habitat hopes to prevent this is by providing affordable housing and living-conditions for struggling lower class citizens, as well as restoring abandoned homes. Individuals with a stable living environment are more likely to land better-paying jobs. Those living with them, such as children, will benefit from this arrangement both physically and mentally, leading to higher education and less delinquency. With your help, Habitat can have an active role in making the future of Kern County and places like it around the world, brighter.