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Blog Post · November 18, 2022

Video: Californians and Their Economic Well-Being

Person Filling Up the Car in a Gas Station

About seven in ten Californians say they expect bad economic times in the next year, and a quarter view the availability of well-paying jobs as a big problem. Last week, PPIC associate survey director Dean Bonner discussed insights from our November survey on economic well-being with survey analyst Rachel Lawler.

Despite a rise in economic pessimism, Governor Newsom coasted to reelection last week and most Californians approve of his handling of jobs and the economy. Californians seem to see our current economic situation as “more of a national or even global problem,” said Lawler. “So our state leaders are not getting the brunt of the blame for it.”

High gas prices are causing hardships for many, with wide variation across regions. Two-thirds of Central Valley and Inland Empire residents say they are experiencing hardships due to gas and transportation costs, compared to about half in Orange/San Diego and Los Angeles, and 37% in the Bay Area. These disparate findings could be because the Bay Area is more reliant on public transportation than other major regions of the state, said Bonner.

Other living costs are also weighing heavily on people’s minds and pocketbooks. Nearly three in ten Californians say they worry about housing costs every day or almost every day, with 43% of those with household incomes of less than $20,000 saying this. Meanwhile, two in ten adults worry about health care costs every day or almost every day, with 29% of the lowest-income Californians saying this.

Twenty-eight percent of Californians say that the lack of well-paying jobs has made them consider moving (23% out of state, 5% elsewhere in state). Politics is one factor that appears to affect thoughts about leaving California. Republicans (36%) are three times as likely as Democrats (12%) to say they are considering moving outside of the state due to the lack of well-paying jobs (independents 25%).

Amid ongoing inflation and economic uncertainty, record-high shares of Californians (71% each) say the gap between rich and poor is getting larger and that government should do more to narrow this gap. Despite our highly polarized political climate, Bonner noted that four government policies to improve economic well-being received bipartisan support: increasing job training, offering a public health care option, increasing the amount of affordable rental housing, and easing permit requirements to build more housing.

As newly elected officials move on to the tasks of legislating and governing, the PPIC Statewide Survey will continue to track state and local policy proposals and monitor Californians’ views on key political and economic issues.


Economy elections Gavin Newsom Health & Safety Net Housing income inequality inflation job approval ratings jobs Political Landscape Poverty & Inequality Statewide Survey