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Newsom is optimistic, but the economy worries Californians

In summary

Governor Gavin Newsom describes the California economy as emerging and “dominant,” but a new poll shows that most Californians disagree.

The juxt -osition of two California events on Tuesday couldn’t have been more ironic.

Governor Gavin Newsom, whose lack of public  -pearances this month had been puzzling – and the subject of much speculation on social media –  -peared in Monterey, where he made a very optimistic, even boastful, assessment of the state’s economy.

Newsom has ticked off data points that it believes prove that “the California dream is still alive” and the state “continues to dominate every category.”

“The future is still being invented here,” he told California Forward’s annual business summit. “I hope we can stop beating ourselves up,” he added. “We have to focus on what is right.”

At the same time, the Public Policy Institute of California released a new poll of Californians’ attitudes towards the state’s economic well-being – and their own – that was far from optimistic.

One result: “Less than half expect good economic times in the next 12 months. Majorities in all income groups are pessimistic about the economy. “

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Another: “Most Californians say that the availability of well-paying jobs is an issue in their part of the state, and 22% think it is a major problem.”

“Overwhelming majorities in terms of age, education, gender and racial / ethnic groups see this as a problem,” said PPIC. “Notably, 26% of Californians say they have seriously considered leaving their part of the state due to the lack of well-paying jobs. Among those who have considered moving, most would rather leave the state than go elsewhere in California. “

Survey participants overwhelmingly believe that the state’s yawning gulf between the haves and the dispossessed is widening. “The majority in partisan groups and regions say that children growing up in California today are worse off than their parents,” PPIC reported.

Another revelation: “Twenty-five percent of Californians and 36 percent of low-income residents worry about housing costs on a daily or almost daily basis. Low-income residents are also more concerned than higher-income residents about paying their bills, how much their debt is, and saving enough for retirement. “

Is the emerging and dominant economy that Newsom m -s the reality, or is PPIC’s survey a more accurate sn -shot of a society with deep-seated and perh -s even persistent socio-economic inequalities?

In a way, it’s both. The positive data points Newsom has so eagerly ticked off are not in themselves imprecise, but their beneficiaries are primarily those who are already in the upper class of the state. Its members have esc -ed most of the negative effects of the pandemic-induced recession and have benefited greatly from the sharp rises in the stock market and other assets such as real estate.

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In contrast, when COVID-19 stuck, those who were lower-class took the brunt of the economic impact as more than 2 million jobs dis -peared and the socio-economic divide widened. The PPIC survey reflected not only the negative experiences of those in the lower echelons of the economic ladder, but also the assessment of their plight by most of the upper echelons.

In addition, Newsom selected the data to support its claim to economic dominance. For example, he left out that California’s 7.5% unemployment rate is the highest in the country, or that California’s 17.2% poverty rate, calculated by the Census Bureau to include the cost of living, is also the worst in the country.

This high poverty rate reflects what the PPIC survey found that many California people are constantly concerned about the high costs of keeping a roof over their heads, paying their bills and debts.

So one could rightly say that California is dominant even in the economic hardship of millions of people.

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