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2020: Year in Review

COVID-19 and California


PPIC is providing essential facts and information at a critical time.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed our state, our nation, and our world in countless ways, many of which we are only beginning to comprehend. As this global health and economic crisis has unfolded, PPIC has responded with an extended series of blog posts that explore key issues across all of our policy areas, including health care, the economy, education, criminal justice, and public opinion. In 2020, we published more than 140 posts in this series and created a dedicated page on the PPIC website to highlight this timely content.

Our work has focused on the pandemic’s multiple effects across California—on seniors in nursing homes, essential workers in overcrowded housing, and children receiving free or reduced price lunch. As shelter-in-place orders increased reliance on the internet, the digital divide emerged as a pressing concern. Our experts examined its effects on K–12 students and considered disparities in access to telehealth.

photo - Closed Business in Downtown Los AngelesOur experts have also examined the larger social, economic, and political forces at work during the pandemic. A labor market team has tracked core economic issues: defining the workers and regions most at risk, assessing the toll on small business, and estimating the impact of unemployment benefits for workers in hardest-hit industries. Others analyzed how the coronavirus is affecting key institutions, from higher education to prisons and jails, as well as essential government functions, such as elections and the census. And the PPIC Statewide Survey team explored perceptions of how leaders are handling the crisis, views of shelter-in-place orders, and concerns about economic and health issues.

The pandemic has exacerbated existing economic instability and deepened racial/ethnic disparities. In keeping with PPIC’s increased focus on opportunity—and its opposite, barriers to success—we explored ways in which the pandemic has increased hardship among California’s unemployed, underemployed, and self-employed workers. California’s unemployed, in particular, tend to be people of color—and younger than the overall labor force. Racial/ethnic disparities are also evident in Californians’ concerns about the impact of COVID-19: Latinos are far more likely than other racial/ethnic groups to say that they are very worried about family illness and negative effects on their personal finances.

Other topics in this blog series include:

Audiences are taking note. Our blog readership has increased by more than 80% over the previous year. This work has received hundreds of media citations, with coverage in major outlets across the state and nation. On social media, California’s leading public and private organizations have highlighted or otherwise engaged with our blog content.

PPIC will continue to examine the impacts of COVID-19 and consider the policy choices and other actions that can help address them.