SAN FRANCISCO, November 9, 2022—Amid rising consumer prices and considerable economic uncertainty, more than two in three Californians are pessimistic about how the state’s economy will do over the next year. Meanwhile, a majority of Californians say that at least one member of their household has driven less in the last 12 months due to the cost of gasoline. Strong majorities of Californians—including majorities across partisan groups—favor government policies that would increase the amount of affordable housing in the state. These are among the key findings of a statewide survey released today by the Public Policy Institute of California.
Asked if they think California will have good or bad economic times during the next 12 months, 69 percent of adults (and 71% of likely voters) say bad times. This is up 12 percentage points from April 2022 and 17 percentage points from last November. Today, solid majorities across regions expect bad economic times in the next year (75% Central Valley, 73% Orange/San Diego, 71% San Francisco Bay Area, 66% Inland Empire, 60% Los Angeles).
Seventy-nine percent of both adults and likely voters say that the availability of well-paying jobs in their part of California today is either a big problem (24% adults, 22% likely voters) or somewhat of a problem (55% adults, 57% likely voters). Twenty-three percent of adults (and 24% of likely voters) say that the lack of well-paying jobs is making them or their family seriously consider leaving California.
“Most Californians are predicting bad times for the state economy in the next 12 months,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO. “One in four Californians say the lack of well-paying jobs is making them seriously consider moving out of the state.”
The new statewide survey also finds:
- Most Californians say at least one person in their household is driving less due to gas prices, while one-third report cutting back on food to save money. Fifty-seven percent of Californians (and 58% of likely voters) say that someone in their household has driven less in the last 12 months due to the cost of gasoline. At least half across income groups report reduced driving in their household, including two-thirds (67%) of those with annual household incomes of less than $20,000 (61% $20,000 to $39,999; 66% $40,000 to $79,999; 50% $80,000 or above).
Thirty-three percent of Californians (and 30% of likely voters) say that someone in their household has reduced meals or cut back on food in order to save money. Those in households with annual incomes of less than $20,000 (56%) and $20,000 to $39,999 (50%) are more likely to say this than are higher-income Californians (39% $40,000 to $79,999; 22% $80,000 or above).
“Half or more Californians across income groups report having driven less due to the cost of gasoline in the last 12 months,” Baldassare said. “One-third report having reduced meals or cut back on food to save money, including half or more among lower-income residents.”
- Many Californians worry about the cost of gasoline and other transportation costs. Among lower-income households, more than four in ten worry every day or almost every day about covering their bills. More than four in ten Californians worry every day (24%) or almost every day (19%) about the cost of gasoline and other transportation costs (likely voters: 26% every day, 17% almost every day). Half of those with annual household incomes of less than $40,000 worry about transportation costs every day (34%) or almost every day (16%). In addition, 40 percent with incomes of less than $40,000 worry either every day (24%) or almost every day (16%) about paying their bills. Among the lowest-income Californians (annual household income of less than $20,000), 29 percent worry every day and 17 percent worry almost every day about paying their bills.
“Forty-three percent of Californians and half with lower incomes worry every day or almost every day about affording gasoline and other transportation costs,” Baldassare said. “More than a third with lower incomes worry every day or almost every day about paying their bills.”
- An overwhelming majority of employed Californians are at least somewhat satisfied with their jobs, though this share is lower among lower-income residents. Nine in ten employed adults are either very satisfied (36%) or somewhat satisfied (55%) with their jobs, and eight in ten (81%) say they have at least a fair amount of job security. Workers with annual household incomes of less than $20,000 are considerably less likely to be satisfied with their jobs (27% very satisfied, 49% somewhat satisfied) and to have at least a fair amount of job security (53%).
Majorities of employed Californians say their jobs offer opportunities for growth and advancement (58%) and educational or training assistance (51%). Those with higher annual household incomes are more likely to report opportunities for growth and advancement on the job (45% less than $40,000; 51% $40,000 to $79,999; 64% $80,000 or above); the same is true vis-à-vis access to educational or training assistance (32% less than $40,000; 45% $40,000 to $79,999; 60% $80,000 or above).
“Most employed residents are somewhat satisfied with their jobs and have at least a fair amount of job security. And majorities say their job offers advancement opportunities and educational or training assistance,” Baldassare said. “However, lower-income workers are less satisfied with their jobs and have less access to advancement opportunities and education and training assistance.”
- Most Californians, including majorities across party lines, approve of government policies to increase housing affordability. Strong majorities of adults (73%) and likely voters (68%) favor government policies that would ease permit requirements and allow more housing to be built so that more lower- and middle-income Californians can afford a home. This includes majorities across partisan groups (80% Democrats, 70% independents, 56% Republicans). Overwhelming majorities (76% adults, 71% likely voters) approve of government policies to increase the supply of affordable rental housing for lower- and middle-income Californians, including majorities across party lines (86% Democrats, 73% independents, 52% Republicans).
“Strong majorities of Californians favor government policies to increase housing production, so that more lower- and middle-income Californians can afford to purchase homes, and to increase the amount of affordable rental housing,” Baldassare said.
- Majorities of Californians want the state government to do more to address economic inequality. Overwhelming majorities of Californians (71% adults, 76% likely voters) think the gap between the rich and the poor is growing, including majorities across party lines (78% independents, 76% Democrats, 64% Republicans). Strong majorities (71% adults, 64% likely voters) say the state government should be doing more to address this divide. Democrats (83%) are much more likely than independents (69%) and Republicans (45%) to hold this view.
“Seven in ten Californians say the gap between the rich and the poor is getting larger and that the state government should do more to narrow this divide,” Baldassare said.
About the Survey
The Californians and Their Economic Well-Being survey is supported with funding from the James Irvine Foundation.
The findings presented above are based on responses from 2,307 California adult residents. The sampling error is ±3.3 percent for the total unweighted sample and ±4.3 percent for the 1,342 likely voters. Interviewing took place October 7–21, 2022. For more information, please see the methodology section in the full survey report.
Mark Baldassare is president and CEO of PPIC, where he holds the Arjay and Frances Fearing Miller Chair in Public Policy. He is founder of the PPIC Statewide Survey, which he has directed since 1998.
The Public Policy Institute of California is dedicated to informing and improving public policy in California through independent, objective, nonpartisan research. We are a public charity. We do not take or support positions on any ballot measure or on any local, state, or federal legislation, nor do we endorse, support, or oppose any political parties or candidates for public office. Research publications reflect the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of our funders or of the staff, officers, advisory councils, or board of directors of the Public Policy Institute of California.