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Press Release · November 9, 2021

Seven in Ten Californians See Widening Inequality in Their Part of the State

ONE IN FOUR—AND ONE IN THREE LOWER-INCOME HOUSEHOLDS—WORRY ABOUT HOUSING COSTS; THREE IN FOUR CALIFORNIANS SUPPORT EXPANDING CHILD CARE FUNDING

Related Event Statewide Survey: Californians and Their Economic Well-Being · November 18, 2021 Contact

Steven Bliss
Director of Digital Strategy

Email 415-291-4412

SAN FRANCISCO, November 9, 2021—A strong majority of Californians, seven in ten, say that the gap between rich and poor is getting larger in their part of the state, and a similar share believes this gap will be larger in 2030. Housing costs are a constant worry for about a quarter of Californians and an even larger share of lower-income residents. Three in four Californians support increasing government funding to boost access to child care for lower-income working families. These are among the key findings of a statewide survey released today by the Public Policy Institute of California.

(Note: As a companion piece to the new survey, PPIC is publishing a blog post by president and CEO Mark Baldassare, “After the Recall, More Californians Want Changes to the Process.”

Sixty-nine percent of Californians say the gap between rich and poor is widening in their part of the state. This includes solid majorities across income levels: 63 percent of those with annual incomes under $20,000; 64 percent of those who earn $20,000 to $39,999; 63 percent of those in the $40,000 to $79,999 range; and 74 percent of those making $80,000 or more. Asked to look ahead, almost two in three Californians (64%) think the gap between rich and poor will be larger in 2030. In addition, a solid majority (63%) say that children growing up now will be worse off than their parents.

“Solid majorities of Californians say the gap between rich and poor in their region is increasing and that children growing up in California today will be worse off than their parents,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO.

The new statewide survey also finds:

  • One in four—and one in three in lower-income households—constantly worry about housing costs. Twenty-five percent of Californians worry every day (13%) or almost every day (12%) about housing costs for their family. Among those with annual incomes of $40,000 or less, 36 percent worry about housing costs every day (24%) or almost every day (12%).

    “About one in four Californians, and one in three living in lower-income households, say they worry every day or almost every day about their housing costs,” Baldassare said.

  • Higher-income and better-educated Californians are especially likely to have had someone in their household working from home. Forty-nine percent say that someone in their household worked from home in the past 12 months. Among households with annual incomes of $80,000 or more, nearly two in three (64%) had someone working from home, a far larger share than other income groups (36% $40,000 to $79,999; 34% $20,000 to $39,999; 32% under $20,000). Households with college graduates (73%) were far more likely to have someone working from home than other households (47% some college, 29% high school only).

    “In the context of the pandemic, about half of Californians say that someone in their household was working from home in the past 12 months, and the share saying this rises sharply with income and education,” Baldassare said.

  • More than a third of the employed are very satisfied with their jobs—and most Californians agree that it is important for workers to organize. Thirty-seven percent of employed Californians are very satisfied with their jobs (53% somewhat satisfied, 10% not satisfied). A solid majority (60%) say they have opportunities for growth and advancement, while about half (51%) say they receive educational or training assistance. The share with opportunities for growth and advancement rises with annual income (45% under $20,000; 50% $20,000 to $39,999; 59% $40,000 to $79,999; 65% $80,000 or more), as does the share whose jobs provide educational or training assistance (20% under $20,000; 43% $20,000 to $39,999; 45% $40,000 to $79,999; 58% $80,000 or more).

    An overwhelming share of Californians completely agree (43%) or somewhat agree (38%) that it is important for workers to organize so that employers do not take advantage of them. Across partisan groups, solid majorities either completely or somewhat agree that it is important for workers to organize (91% Democrats, 79% independents, 61% Republicans).

    “Thirty-seven percent of employed residents are very satisfied with their jobs, and views about growth and advancement opportunities vary by income and education,” Baldassare said. “Majorities across partisan groups agree that it is important for workers to organize.”

  • About one in five say the lack of well-paying jobs in their part of California is a big problem. Twenty-two percent of Californians say that the availability of well-paying jobs in their area is a big problem, and another 57 percent say it is somewhat of a problem. The share saying it is a big problem varies somewhat by region (28% Orange/San Diego, 26% Inland Empire, 22% San Francisco Bay Area, 21% Central Valley, 19% Los Angeles). One in four statewide (26%) say the lack of well-paying jobs is making them seriously consider moving—and 21 percent among this group say they would move outside of California.

    “About one in five residents say the lack of well-paying jobs in their region is a big problem and is making them seriously consider moving out of state,” Baldassare said.

  • Californians strongly support expanding access to child care and job training programs. An overwhelming majority (76%) support increasing government funding to make child care affordable for more lower-income working parents. Across partisan groups, 92 percent of Democrats, 72 percent of independents, and 41 percent of Republicans approve. Eighty-one percent of Californians support increased government funding for job training programs, including solid majorities across party lines (92% Democrats, 80% independents, 60% Republicans).

    “An overwhelming majority are in favor of increasing government funding so that child care programs are available for more lower-income working parents, while majorities across partisan groups favor increasing funding for job training programs,” Baldassare said.

This PPIC Statewide Survey was fielded between October 12 and October 31, 2021, and includes responses from 2,292 California adult residents.

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 2,292 California adult residents. The sampling error is ±3.2 percent for the total unweighted sample and ±3.9 percent for the 1,543 likely voters. Interviewing took place October 12–31, 2021. 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.