California is spending record sums on anti-poverty programs, $19 billion per year more than in 2012. We have the highest poverty rate in the nation, over 20 percent, according to the Census Bureau, when the cost of living is taken into account. But taxpayer-funded programs can never catch up to the problem, because higher taxes are part of the cause of the problem. Where are the jobs that allow people to climb out of poverty and enjoy a rising standard of living, instead of declining wages and never enough money to buy things?
“With parents working two or more jobs to afford housing, they may lack the time to help children with homework or afford after-school enrichment, affecting educational achievement.” If the housing crisis continues, the report predicts, the result will be “a persistent and growing underclass,” while higher-income residents bear the burden of supporting a swelling elderly population.
Southern California worker bees are seeing some of the nicest increases in wages since the recession ended. But employers must somehow pay for higher labor expenses, and it appears bosses are opting to raise local prices. Look at April’s consumer price index for the five-county region. Year-over-year, the cost-of-living was up 2.7 percent, the third consecutive month at this level. The last time local inflation was this strong was 2011.
The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index for California rose for the fifth time in sixth months in April. Since Donald Trump’s surprise White House win, this index — for a state he lost badly — is up 29 percent.
For April, Californians told Conference Board pollsters that present economic conditions slipped a bit. Statewide job growth has slowed after five years of significant improvement. Still, the current climate measure is up 33 percent in six months. And Californians’ expectations for the economy rose in April, part of a 25 percent jump since the election.
The apparent growing appetite for suburban living presents a unique challenge to California. The state policy is aggressively anti-suburban, placing ever-higher hurdles on any development on the periphery. This, over time, is slowing construction in the interior and forcing housing prices unnaturally up, even in these areas.
Some so-called progressives hail these trends, as forcing what they seem to see as less desirable elements — that is, working- and middle-class people — out of the state. They allege that this is balanced out by a surge of highly educated workers coming to California. Essentially, the model is that of a gated community, with a convenient servant base nearby.