Seven in ten Californians say the gap between the rich and the poor is widening, according to a statewide poll released Tuesday.
The survey, conducted last month by the non-partisan think tank, Public Policy Institute of California, asked 2,292 adult Californians about their views on the state’s economic outlook, financial security, job security. , among other topics.
“A strong majority of Californians say that the gap between the rich and the poor in their area is increasing and that children growing up in California today will be worse off than their parents,” said Mark Baldassare, chief executive officer of PPIC.
Overall, Californians have mixed opinions on the state’s economic outlook for the next 12 months. About 47% said they thought good times were coming, while 52% said they were planning bad times. Looking more closely at racial / ethnic groups, a majority of Latinos (57%) and Black Americans (54%) say good times are ahead, compared to about four in 10 Asian Americans (43%) and Whites (39%).
Survey results also vary by region.
Half of the people in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area are optimistic, while the majority in the Central Valley, Inland Empire and Orange / San Diego are pessimistic.
About 64% of those polled say they think inequalities will be greater by 2030.
Californians share their views on jobs, education and financial security
The PPIC survey found that most Californians – around 78% – are happy with their current financial situation, and 21% said they were very satisfied. However, people of color, people with less education, and low-income Californians are less likely to be very financially satisfied.
While one in six say they are worse off than a year ago, most Californians say they are doing about as well as they were a year ago, and about one in five say that they are better off.
About 16% of Californians report that they or someone in their household has received food from a food bank in the past year, and 27% have received unemployment benefits.
Those earning less than $ 20,000 a year are almost three times more likely than those earning $ 80,000 or more to say they are worse off.
The survey also asked many questions about employment and financial security.
More than one in four Californians say that they or someone in their household has had their working hours or wages reduced, or 28%, and about two in 10 know someone who has lost their job in the past. Past 12 months, while almost half – around 49% – have worked from home.
Most Californians surveyed said the availability of well-paying jobs was an issue in their part of the state, with 22% seeing it as a big deal. Residents of the Inland Empire and Orange / San Diego are slightly more likely to say this is a big problem than those in other areas.
In the central San Joaquin Valley of California, about 61% of residents surveyed consider the availability of high-paying jobs “a bit of a problem”, while 21% see the availability of high-paying jobs a “big deal” .
Most employees say they are at least somewhat satisfied with their work. About 37% of employed adults say they are very satisfied with their job, while 53% are somewhat satisfied. About 60% of adults say their jobs offer opportunities for growth and advancement.
Yet not everyone feels like this.
“About one in five residents say the lack of well-paying jobs in their area is a big problem and is a serious cause for them to consider leaving the state,” Baldassare said.
More than one in four Californians, or 27%, worry daily or almost daily about savings for retirement and the cost of housing. Two in 10 Californians worry about the amount of their debt and 19% worry about the costs of health care for them and their families.
The survey also asked questions about what Californians think about organizing workers. About eight in ten adults strongly (43%) or somewhat (38%) agree that it is important for workers to organize themselves so that employers do not take advantage of them.
As workers across the state took part in strikes in October, a recent CalMatters report found that few of the working poor in California have a chance to vote on unions.
Broad support for government safety net programs
Survey results show that an overwhelming majority of Californians support the expansion of safety net programs.
About seven in ten adults, or 72% and 71% of likely voters, support expanded eligibility and earned income tax credit payments for low-income families and individuals.
At state and local levels, many groups have advocated for the permanent extension of the child tax credit.
There were several issues related to employee benefits and training support.
More than eight in ten adults and likely voters support increased government funding for skills training programs; strong majorities among partisan groups and regions are in favor of this increase so that more workers have the skills they need for today’s jobs.
Nearly two in three Californians, or 65% adults and 60% likely voters, support a government policy to make tuition free at two-year and four-year public colleges. In addition, about six in ten Californians support government policy that would eliminate college debt.
Support for these programs varies across racial / ethnic and ideological lines. Democrats and Independents broadly support these policies, while the majority of Republicans oppose both. Among racial / ethnic groups, whites are the least likely to support these policies, although almost half support them. Support is lowest among college graduates, those 55 and over, and those with incomes of $ 80,000 or more.
About three in four people support the government, which offers a Medicare-like health insurance plan, where Americans can buy in place of private insurance. An overwhelming majority of Californians, 76%, are in favor of increased government funding to make child care programs available to more low-income working parents.
Melissa Montalvo is a reporter for the Fresno Bee and a member of the Report for America Corps. This article is part of California division, an editorial collaboration examining income inequality and economic survival in California.