Photo credit: Rich Pedroncelli, AP
Gavin Newsom desperately wants Californians to believe the state is “roaring back,” but as Friday’s unemployment numbers for June showed, the state still has the 4th highest unemployment rate in the country. And a new column published by Cal Matters yesterday explains that no matter how many times Newsom repeats the claim, the slogan is just not reflective of reality.
“Newsom’s “roaring back” mantra sidesteps the state’s very real socioeconomic problems which, if anything, have worsened during the pandemic. California still has one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates with well over a million jobless workers. We had the nation’s highest level of poverty before the pandemic and it has surely increased.
“The major factor in California’s high poverty is the state’s very high cost of living, particularly for housing, but for other necessities as well, such as gasoline and utilities.
“Newsom has offered only token and/or short-term responses to those costs, such as rental and utility bill assistance and cash payments to low-income families that probably, as Brown warns, cannot be sustained.
“The state’s housing shortage continues to put upward pressure on rents and home prices and the $3.5 billion that Newsom’s new budget contains for affordable housing would build fewer than 10,000 units in a state that’s at least 80,000 units short of meeting its own housing quotas each year.
“The key to the housing dilemma is making California more attractive for private investment, but Newsom and legislators have ducked the difficult policy choices to encourage such investment, such as reforming the California Environmental Quality Act and rebuffing efforts by construction unions to claim jurisdiction on housing projects.
“California will be truly roaring back when unemployment decreases, housing construction increases, the poverty rate declines, and educational achievement rises. Until then, it’s just a campaign slogan.”