Nearly half of the California’s workers are dealing with poverty

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A survey released Tuesday by the Public Religion Research Institute paints a grim picture for those living in California.

Not only it suggests the majority of residents do not believe the “California dream” is alive today, it also paints a picture of rising poverty among Californian workers.

Many people are struggling to make ends meet. Nearly half of the state’s workers are dealing with poverty, it said.

“Most residents say they would urge young people to leave the area and search for opportunities elsewhere.”

The Hispanic population, however, makes up 60 percent of those who are working and struggling with poverty.

“This is defined as those living in poverty, as well as living in “tenuous” economic conditions, with adjusted incomes 250 percent or less than their personal poverty threshold.

“Regionally, San Joaquin Valley holds the highest percentage of workers facing poverty (nearly 70 percent), while the Bay Area – including San Francisco, Santa Clara, Sonoma and surrounding counties – sees the least poverty.”

California’s population nearly tripled during the second half of the 20th century, thanks in part to an influx of immigrants.

It was also boosted by the idea of the “California dream” – the idea that the American dream of success through hard work was even more achievable in the Golden State.

But this growth rate slowed significantly in the 21st century, and now sits at 0.7 percent, the same as the national average it once far outpaced, said the report.

Today, only 47% of Californians believe (out of 3000 residents polled) believe that, in the U.S., working hard will lead to financial security.

“Fifty-five percent of residents say it’s more difficult to achieve the American dream in California,” it said.

The poverty rates are reflected in the respondents sense of economic security in various regions.

Among the study’s other key findings: about one in 10 residents said they participated in the gig economy (performing miscellaneous tasks such as shopping or driving for a ride-sharing app) in the last year.

Key Findings:

A significant proportion of Californians in the workforce are economically struggling.

  • Nearly one-third (31 percent) of all Californians are working but struggling with poverty, which translates to almost half (47 percent) of the state’s workers.

 Californians who are working and struggling with poverty experience notable economic vulnerability and hardships.

  • Fifty-six percent of California workers struggling with poverty say it would be at least somewhat difficult to pay for a $400 emergency expense, compared to only 24 percent of workers not struggling with poverty.
  • Forty-two percent of workers struggling with poverty have put off seeing a doctor or purchasing medication for financial reasons.

Workers struggling with poverty are more likely than workers who are more economically secure to report being taken advantage of in the workplace.

  • They are also more likely to see the importance of workplace organizing. Eight in ten workers who are struggling with poverty say it is important for workers to organize to protect their rights.

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