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Press Release · February 1, 2023

The Economy and Homelessness Are Top Issues for Californians


Related Event Statewide Survey: Californians and Their Government · February 2, 2023 Contact

Steven Bliss
Director of Digital Strategy

Email 415-291-4412

SAN FRANCISCO, February 1, 2023—As a new legislative session and state budget cycle get into full swing, Californians say that the economy and homelessness are the most important issues for the governor and legislature to address. A solid majority of Californians are very concerned that their family’s younger generation will not be able to afford a home in their part of the state. And similar to a year ago, most Californians approve of the job that Governor Newsom is doing. These are among the key findings from a statewide survey released today by the Public Policy Institute of California.

When asked about the most important issue for the governor and state legislature to work on this year, Californians are most likely to name jobs, the economy, and inflation (23%) or homelessness (20%). The environment (6%) and housing costs and availability (6%) are the other issues named by more than 5 percent of residents. Six in ten Californians (61% adults, 64% likely voters) think that Newsom and the legislature will be able to work together and accomplish a lot in the next year. Across partisan groups, Democrats (81%) are far more likely than independents (58%) and Republicans (27%) to hold this view.

“Jobs and the economy and homelessness are the most important issues for the governor and legislature to work on in 2023,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC Statewide Survey director and Miller Chair in Public Policy. “Solid majorities believe that Governor Newsom and the legislature will be able to work together and accomplish a lot in the next year.”

The new statewide survey also finds:

  • Housing affordability concerns are widespread. An overwhelming majority of Californians (70%) say that housing affordability is a big problem in their part of the state. This includes overwhelming majorities in the San Francisco Bay Area (80%) and Los Angeles (75%) along with 69 percent in the Inland Empire, 67 percent in Orange/San Diego, and 59 percent in the Central Valley.

    Asked how concerned they are that the cost of housing will prevent their family’s younger generation from buying a home in their part of California, 60 percent say they are very concerned. This includes majorities across all regions of the state (67% Inland Empire, 63% Orange/San Diego, 62% San Francisco Bay Area, 61% Los Angeles, 52% Central Valley).

    “Seven in ten Californians say that housing affordability is a big problem in their part of the state,” Baldassare said. “Majorities are very concerned that housing costs will prevent the younger generation in their family from buying a home in the region where they live.”

  • An overwhelming majority say homelessness is a big problem. Seventy percent of Californians say that homelessness is a big problem in their part of the state. This includes strong majorities across all regions (74% Los Angeles, 74% San Francisco Bay Area, 67% Orange/San Diego, 66% Central Valley, 65% Inland Empire). Also, 70 percent statewide believe that the presence of homeless people in their local community has increased in the last 12 months, including strong majorities across regions (74% Central Valley, 73% Inland Empire, 72% Los Angeles, 70% San Francisco Bay Area, 67% Orange/San Diego).

    “Seven in ten Californians view homelessness as a big problem in their part of the state, and a similar share perceive that it has increased in their local community in the last year,” Baldassare said.

  • Most support Governor Newsom’s overall budget plan for 2023–24. In early January, the governor released a proposed $297 billion budget, including a $22.5 billion budget shortfall. One-third (34% adults, 38% likely voters) think the state budget situation is a big problem, a similar share to a year ago (39% adults, 40% likely voters) when the state had an estimated $97.5 billion surplus. After hearing a brief summary of the governor’s budget proposal, solid majorities (60% adults, 62% likely voters) approve of the spending plan, though support varies across party lines (79% Democrats, 61% independents, 27% Republicans).

    Solid majorities approve of the governor’s plan to avoid using the state’s Rainy Day Fund to help address the budget shortfall (70% adults, 73% likely voters) as well as his proposal to sustain previously planned investments in—among other things— transitional kindergarten (TK) expansion, universal school meals, the state’s homelessness strategy, and increased health care access (66% adults, 63% likely voters). But Californians are divided (48% of adults and 49% of likely voters approving) on the governor’s proposed cuts to workforce training, transportation, housing programs, and climate change efforts.

    “One in three Californians say the state’s budget situation is a big problem,” Baldassare said. “Most Californians have favorable views when asked about the governor’s overall budget plan and specific proposals for state spending, while they are divided on proposed spending cuts.”

  • Two-thirds expect bad economic times for California in the next year. Personal finance concerns are especially high among lower-income Californians. Sixty-six percent of Californians think that the state will have bad times financially over the next 12 months. This is more than at any point in 2021 or 2022 and is similar to views in December 2020 (68%). Six in ten believe that California is now in a recession (22% serious recession, 33% moderate recession, 7% mild recession). A year ago, just slightly over half thought the state was in a recession (23% serious, 20% moderate, 8% mild).

    A solid majority (61%) say that recent price increases have caused hardship for their household. Meanwhile, nearly one-third (30%) are concerned that someone in their family will lose their job in the next year. More than four in ten are either very concerned (17%) or somewhat concerned (28%) about being able to pay their rent or mortgage.

    Californians with annual household income of less than $40,000 are especially likely to express these financial and economic concerns. Seventy-nine percent say that price increases have caused hardship (67% $40,000 to $79,999; 49% $80,000 or more), and more than one-third (37%) are concerned about job loss in their family (30% $40,000 to $79,999; 25% $80,000 or more). An overwhelming share of those with annual household income below $40,000 are very concerned (35%) or somewhat concerned (37%) about not being able to pay for housing ($40,000 to $79,999: 17% very, 31% somewhat; $80,000 or more: 7% very, 22% somewhat).

    “Most Californians are expecting bad times for the state economy in the next year and believe the state is now in a recession,” Baldassare said. “Lower-income residents express more concerns about rising prices, job loss, and having enough money to pay for their housing.”

  • Most approve of Newsom and Biden, while about half approve of the state legislature. Approval is lower for the US Supreme Court and Congress. Majorities of Californians (58% adults, 57% likely voters) approve of how Governor Newsom is handling his job. This is similar to his approval rating a year ago (56% adults, 57%), and approval for Newsom has been above 50 percent since the beginning of 2020. Californians are split on approval of the state legislature, with 49 percent of both adults and likely voters approving.

    Fifty-three percent of Californians and 56 percent of likely voters approve of President Biden’s job performance; one year ago, 53 percent of adults and 49 percent of likely voters approved of the president. Fewer today approve of the US Supreme Court (37% adults, 36% likely voters) and Congress (27% adults, 22% likely voters). Meanwhile, 28 percent of adults and 27 percent of likely voters have a favorable impression of newly elected US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

    “Majorities approve of the job performance of Governor Newsom and President Biden,” Baldassare said. “About half approve of the state legislature, while fewer approve of the US Supreme Court and US Congress. One in four have a favorable opinion of Speaker Kevin McCarthy.”

 About the Survey

The Californians and Their Government survey is supported with funding from the Arjay and Frances F. Miller Foundation and the James Irvine Foundation.

The findings presented above are based on responses from 1,539 California adult residents. The sampling error is ±3.5 percent for the total unweighted sample and ±4.2 percent for the 1,050 likely voters. Interviewing took place from January 13–20, 2023. For more information, please see the methodology section in the full survey report.

Mark Baldassare is statewide survey director at 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.