Modesto, California

By the numbers

Eighteenth-largest city in California; 107th-largest city in the US, between Des Moines, Iowa, and Fayetteville, North Carolina


Race and ethnicity
65% white
35.5% Hispanic
6.7% Asian
4.2% African American

Median household income

Major employers
Stanislaus County, E&J Gallo Winder, Modesto City Schools, Foster Farms, Seneca Foods, Del Monte Foods

Unemployment rate

One of the 25 most polluted cities in the US

Number two in car thefts per 100,000 people

In 2010, Modesto’s metropolitan area ranked 161 of the 162 listed in the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, just above that of Huntington, West Virginia

13.2% of Modesto households earned less than $15,000 in 2010, above both the California and national averages
2.7% earned more than $200,000, below both the state and national averages

City motto
Water Wealth Contentment Health

Notable former residents
Chandra Levy, George Lucas, Mark Spitz, Scott Peterson, Jeremy Renner This piece is part of CJR’s Nov/Dec 2011 roundtable discussion of the future of news in Modesto, California, and places like it. For more on the topic, click here.

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The Editors are the staffers of Columbia Journalism Review.