California’s slowing economic expansion was evident in August as the state lost 8,200 net jobs and the unemployment rate rose to 5.1%, from 4.8% a month earlier, according to data released Friday from the state’s Employment Development Department. The drop in employment follows a robust July in which the Golden State gained the most jobs in more than a year: 84,500, revised up from a previous estimate of 82,600. August’s slide back was in large part driven by employers in the leisure and hospitality sector: They cut 12,400 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis — the largest decrease by any sector in the state. Professional and business services and the public sector also lost jobs. Manufacturing and the trade, transportation and utilities sector, meanwhile, gained jobs.
The technology hub of San Francisco surpassed the nation’s capital last year as the highest-earning large U.S. metropolitan area. Median household income in the San Francisco metro area in 2016 was $96,667, just ahead of the $95,843 figure for the Washington region, the Census Bureau announced Thursday. That put the California hotspot in first place among the 25 most populous metro areas, with the capital falling to the No. 2 slot. The median income for the San Francisco area, including nearby cities such as Oakland and Berkeley, has surged in recent years amid a tech-sector boom and jumped 9.2% in 2016. Incomes in the Washington area, including parts of Maryland and northern Virginia, rose a more modest 2.7% from 2015.
Median household income in America was $59,039 last year, surpassing the previous high of $58,655 set in 1999, the Census Bureau said. The figure is adjusted for inflation and is one of the most closely watched indicators of how the middle class is faring financially, as the Census surveys nearly 100,000 homes. The Census said the uptick in earnings occurred because so many people found full-time jobs — or better-paying jobs — last year. America's poverty rate also fell to 12.7 percent, the lowest since 2007, the year before the financial crisis hit. The percent of Americans without health insurance for the entire year also dropped in 2016 to just 8.8 percent, largely thanks to expanding coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
New figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show California has the country's highest poverty rate, with nearly one in five residents facing economic hardship when factoring in living costs such as housing.
California’s political leaders, having ignored and even abetted our housing shortage, now pretend that they will “solve it.” Don’t bet on it. Their big ideas include a $4 billion housing subsidy bond and the stripping away of local control over zoning, and mandating densification of already developed areas. None of these steps addresses the fundamental causes for California’s housing crisis. Today, barely 29 percent of California households, notes the California Association of Realtors, can afford a median-priced house; in 2012, it was 56 percent. At the heart of the problem lie “urban containment” policies that impose “urban growth boundaries” to restrict — or even prohibit — new suburban detached housing tracts from being built on greenfield land. Given the strong demand for single-family homes, it is no surprise that prices have soared. Before these policies were widely adopted, housing prices in California had about the same relationship to incomes as in other parts of the country. Today, prices in places like Los Angeles, the Bay Area and Orange County are two to three times as high, adjusted for incomes, as in less-regulated states. Even in the once affordable Inland Empire, housing prices are nearing double that of most other areas, closing off one of the last remaining alternatives for middle- and working-class families.