PPIC Statewide Survey: Californians and Their Economic Well-Being

photo - Welder

Key Findings

While job conditions and economic circumstances have been recovering from the COVID-19 crisis over the past year, glaring disparities in economic well-being have taken center stage in policy discussions. Many lower-income Californians continue to struggle to make ends meet while higher-income Californians have seen their fortunes rise. Meanwhile, changes in federal leadership coupled with a large increase in state revenues have set the context for a renewed focus on expanding educational opportunities and safety net programs to improve the lives and future prospects of lower-income Californians.

These are among the key findings of a statewide survey on state and national issues that was conducted from October 12 to October 31 by the Public Policy Institute of California:

  • figure - Most Californians Say The Gap Between The Rich And The Poor Is Getting LargerSolid majorities of Californians (69%) say the gap between the rich and the poor in their region is increasing and that it will be larger by the year 2030 (64%). Majorities across partisan groups and regions say that children growing up in California today will be worse off than their parents.
  • Californians have mixed views of the state’s economic outlook in the next 12 months (47% good times, 52% bad times). About one in five say the lack of well-paying jobs in their region is a big problem; a similar share say the lack of well-paying jobs is making them seriously consider moving out of the state.
  • figure - Most Adults Think Todays Children Will Be Worse Off In The FutureMost Californians (62%) say their finances today are the same as a year ago. Lower-income residents are more likely than others to say they are worse off financially than a year ago, to express dissatisfaction with their finances, and to say that it would be difficult to pay for a $1,000 emergency expense.
  • Twenty-eight percent report that they or someone in their household had work hours reduced or pay cut in the last 12 months. Households with incomes under $80,000 are much more likely than higher-income households to have faced reduced pay or hours. Forty-nine percent say that they or someone in their household worked from home over the past year, with more-affluent Californians far more likely to say this.
  • Twenty-five percent of Californians and 36 percent of lower-income residents worry every day or almost every day about housing costs. Lower-income residents also worry more than those at higher income levels about paying their bills, the amount of debt they have, and saving enough for retirement.
  • Thirty-seven percent of employed residents are very satisfied with their jobs; the perception that their job offers opportunities for growth and advancement increases with rising education and income levels. Majorities across partisan and demographic groups agree that it is important for workers to organize so that employers do not take advantage of them.
  • An overwhelming majority of Californians (76%) favor increasing government funding so that childcare programs are available for more lower-income working parents. Solid majorities across partisan groups and regions favor increasing government funding for job training programs so that more workers have the skills they need for today’s jobs.
Source: ppic.org

PPIC Statewide Survey: Californians and Their Economic Well-Being