The pace of motherhood in California is slowing and its members are aging, a shift demographers expect to continue and contribute to far-reaching and uncertain changes in the decades to come.
Last year, the state reached a historic milestone: the lowest birth rate on record — 12.4 births per thousand people. That rate was 12.3 for Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties and a Southern California News Group analysis of state projections shows the region’s rate could fall another 24 percent by 2040.
When progressive journalists, including those in Texas, speak about the California model, they usually refer to the state’s economic performance since 2010, which has been well above the national average. Yet this may have been only an aberrant phenomenon. Since 2010, Texas’ job count has grown by 20.6 percent compared to 18.6 percent for California. If you pull the curtain even further, to 2000, however, the gap is even bigger, with employment growing 32.7 percent in Texas compared to 18 percent in California. The main problem is that California’s once remarkably varied and vital economy has become dangerously dependent on the Bay Area tech boom. Since 2010, the Silicon Valley-San Jose economy and San Francisco have been on a tear, growing their employment base by 25 percent. Job growth in the rest of the state has been a more modest 15 percent. “It’s not a California miracle, but really should be called a Silicon Valley miracle,” notes Chapman University forecaster Jim Doti. “The rest of the state really isn’t doing well.”
The stepped-in increase will raise rates by 9.25 percent now and then by another 9 percent in July 2018, which comes out to an increase of around $4.34 per month for the average household this summer and $4.64 monthly when the second raise takes place next July, according to EBMUD measures. EBMUD has said it needs more funds to replace aging infrastructure and other maintenance — and says around 10 percent of the money will go toward filling a projected $30 million gap created when customers conserved water during the drought.
These changes will define, and perhaps undermine, our economy by creating a dearth of new workers. Between 2013 and 2025, the number of high school graduates in our state is expected to drop by 5 percent, compared to a 19 percent increase in Texas, 10 percent growth in Florida and a 9 percent rise in North Carolina. Some, of course, may hail these trends. Environmental activists and their allies in the density lobby generally prefer a childless population, both to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to expand their influence. Some tech-oriented futurists may even suggest that robots will replace all but the most skilled of workers, making additional children more a burden than a blessing. Yet, for California employers — at least until the technological nirvana — a labor shortage, particularly in skilled trades, could prove troubling in the near-term, and even medium-term, future. Historically, California could count on migration from both the rest of the nation and abroad. But this seems to have changed dramatically. The state has lost more domestic migrants than it has gained since at least 2000. Net immigration, the other lodestone of our labor force growth, has also slowed.
U.S. employers picked up their pace of hiring in June. Nonfarm payrolls rose by a seasonally adjusted 222,000 from the prior month, the Labor Department said. The unemployment rate ticked up to 4.4% from 4.3% the prior month as more people joined the workforce. Average hourly earnings for private-sector workers rose 2.5% in June, little changed from prior months. In one positive sign, the average workweek rose by 0.1 hour to 34.5 hours.