Global sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine have contributed to surging oil and gas prices—at a time when US inflation was already at a forty-year high. How are Californians weathering these price increases, which have also included other everyday necessities such as food, electricity, and housing? Given the state’s longstanding crisis of housing affordability, has inflation further threatened Californians’ abilities to cover their housing costs?
According to our most recent PPIC Statewide Survey, two-thirds of Californians report experiencing financial hardship due to recent price increases, with 35% saying they have faced serious hardship. Regionally, Inland Empire and Orange/San Diego residents are the most likely to say they are experiencing serious hardship. Across racial/ethnic groups, Latinos (40%) are the most likely to say price increases have caused serious hardship (31% whites, 30% other racial/ethnic groups). The shares reporting serious hardship decline as education and income levels rise.
The expanded federal child tax credit—a pandemic program that increased benefits for low-income families with children—expired last December. Today, 43% of Californians with children in the household report they have suffered serious hardship due to price increases, compared to 31% of those in homes without children. Renters are also much more likely than homeowners to report financial hardship.
When it comes to housing costs, 26% of Californians are very concerned about paying their rent or mortgage, similar to views from last March. Today, renters are twice as likely as homeowners to be very concerned about having enough money to cover their housing costs.
About three-in-ten residents across regions are very concerned about paying their rent or mortgage, with the exception of the San Francisco Bay Area (19%). Across racial/ethnic groups, Latinos (37%) are the most likely to be very concerned (17% whites, 22% other racial/ethnic groups). The shares who are very concerned decline as education and income levels increase. Adults living in households with children are much more likely to be concerned about covering their housing costs than those in households with no children.
California is currently considering a range of options—including direct payments to car owners and free public transportation for three months—to help alleviate the financial strain on residents. PPIC will continue to monitor the views of Californians as the economic situation evolves in the coming months and as the consequential midterm election nears.