By Dan Walters
November 10, 2021
Gov. Gavin Newsom describes California’s economy as surging and “dominant” but a new poll indicates that most Californians don’t agree.
The juxtaposition of two California events Tuesday could not have been more ironic.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, whose paucity of public appearances this month had been puzzling — and the subject of much social media speculation — emerged in Monterey, where he delivered a very upbeat, even bragging, appraisal of the state’s economy.
“The future is still invented here,” he told California Forward’s annual economic summit. “I hope we can stop beating ourselves up, he added. “We need to focus on what’s right.”
Simultaneously, the Public Policy Institute of California was releasing a new survey of Californians’ attitudes about the state’s — and their own — economic well-being that was anything but upbeat.
One finding: “Fewer than half expect good economic times in the next 12 months. Majorities across income groups are pessimistic about the economy.”
Another: “Most Californians say the availability of well-paying jobs is a problem in their part of the state, and 22% consider it a big problem.”
Another revelation: “Twenty-five percent of Californians and 36% 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.”
In contrast, those who were in the underclass when COVID-19 stuck bore the brunt of its economic impacts as more than 2 million jobs disappeared, and the socioeconomic gap has become wider as a result. The PPIC poll reflected not only the negative recent experiences of those on the lower rungs of the economic ladder, but an appreciation of their plight by most of those on the upper rungs.
Moreover, Newsom cherrypicked the data to bolster his claim of economic dominance. He omitted, for example, the fact that California’s unemployment rate of 7.5% is the nation’s highest, or that California’s poverty rate of 17.2% as calculated by the Census Bureau to include the cost of living is also the nation’s worst.
That high poverty rate reflects what the PPIC survey found, that high numbers of California worry constantly about the high cost of keeping roofs over their heads, paying their bills and debts.
One could legitimately say, therefore, that when comes to economic distress being felt by millions of its residents, California is also dominant.
Click here to read the entire commentary by Dan Walters in CalMatters.