CVV News | November 8, 2023
Seven in ten Californians—a record high—say that children growing up in the state today will be worse off financially than their parents. Half of the state’s residents approve of how Governor Gavin Newsom is handling the economy. Asked about new technology like artificial intelligence, about three in ten employed Californians—and a larger share of lower-income workers—say they fear losing their jobs to these advances. These are among the key findings from a statewide survey released today by the Public Policy Institute of California.
Drawing on this new survey, PPIC is publishing a blog post by Statewide Survey Director and Miller Chair in Public Policy Mark Baldassare: “How Are Californians Viewing the 2024 Elections?”
Seventy-one percent of Californians believe that children growing up in the state today will be worse off financially than their parents—a record high for the PPIC Statewide Survey. This share has risen in recent years (67% November 2022, 63% November 2021, 63% December 2020) and is substantially larger than the 50 percent who held this view five years ago. Today, solid majorities hold this view across party lines (89% Republicans, 79% independents, 66% Democrats), racial/ethnic groups (82% whites, 69% Asian Americans, 61% Latinos, 60% African Americans), and regions (72% Orange/San Diego, 71% San Francisco Bay Area, 70% Central Valley, 69% Los Angeles, 65% Inland Empire).
Asked about their current financial standing, an overwhelming majority (72%) of Californians are satisfied with their household’s financial situation (16% very satisfied, 56% somewhat satisfied). Californians’ satisfaction with their household finances varies across income categories, with those in households with annual incomes of $80,000 and above most likely (82%) to say they are at least somewhat satisfied (68% $40,000 to $79,999; 55% $20,000 to $39,999; 42% less than $20,000).
“Seven in ten Californians are satisfied with their household’s financial situation,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC Statewide Survey director and Miller Chair in Public Policy. “However, a similar share agree that when children in California today grow up, they will be worse off than their parents.”
The new statewide survey also finds:
- Many Californians worry about housing costs, saving for retirement, and saving for their children’s college education. Twenty-eight percent of Californians worry every day (13%) or almost every day (15%) about their cost of housing. Roughly half (52%) of those with annual household incomes of less than $20,000 worry at least almost every day about housing costs (42% $20,000 to $39,999; 31% $40,000 to $79,999; 22% $80,000 and above). Meanwhile, 30 percent of Californians worry every day (16%) or almost every day (14%) about being able to save enough for retirement. Here, too, those with annual household incomes of less than $20,000 (50%) are most likely to worry at least almost every day (37% $20,000 to $39,999; 29% $40,000 to $79,999; 26% $80,000 and above).Thirty-three percent of California parents worry every day (17%) or almost every day (16%) about being able to save enough for their children’s college education. About six in ten (59%) with annual household incomes of less than $20,000 worry at least almost every day about college savings (40% $20,000 to $39,999; 34% $40,000 to $79,999; 27% $80,000 and above).“Three in ten residents worry every day or almost every day about housing costs and retirement savings,” Baldassare said. “One in three parents worry every day or almost every day about saving for their child’s college education.”
- A majority of Californians have an unfavorable view of artificial intelligence (AI), and one in three workers are concerned about losing their jobs due to new technology. A majority of Californians (56%) have an unfavorable view of artificial intelligence (AI), including majorities across party lines (62% Republicans, 54% Democrats, 52% independents). There is a slight variation in disapproval levels across regions (60% Los Angeles, 57% Orange/San Diego, 56% Inland Empire, 55% Central Valley, 50% San Francisco Bay Area). Twenty-nine percent of employed Californians are very worried (6%) or somewhat worried (23%) about their jobs being eliminated due to AI or other new technology. Among employed residents with annual household incomes of less than $40,000, 45 percent are worried about job loss due to new technology.“The majority have an unfavorable opinion of artificial intelligence,” Baldassare said. “Three in ten residents say they worry about their jobs being eliminated by new technology like AI, while more than four in ten hold this view among lower-income Californians.”
- Californians are pessimistic about the state’s economic outlook. A majority of adults (57%) and a slim majority of likely voters (52%) think things in California are going in the wrong direction, while six in ten or more (64% adults, 60% likely voters) believe that the state will have bad economic times in the next 12 months.Despite this general pessimism, 51 percent of adults and 54 percent of likely voters approve of how Governor Newsom is handling economic issues. Approval on the economy is slightly lower for the California Legislature (45% adults, 49% likely voters).“Majorities of Californians think the state is headed in the wrong direction and predict bad economic times for the state in the next 12 months,” Baldassare said. “Still, half approve of the governor on jobs and the economy.”
- Overwhelming majorities support increasing government funding for child care, the earned income tax credit (EITC), and job training programs. Asked whether the government should increase funding for child care programs to improve access among lower-income working parents, overwhelming majorities (76% adults, 75% likely voters) favor this approach, with approval varying across party lines (89% Democrats, 75% independents, 51% Republicans). Overwhelming majorities (71% adults, 70% likely voters) also favor the government expanding eligibility and payments for the earned income tax credit for lower-income workers. Again, approval varies across party lines (85% Democrats, 66% independents, 49% Republicans).Eight in ten (81% adults, 82% likely voters) support increasing government funding for job training programs so that more workers have the skills they need for today’s jobs. This includes strong majorities across party lines (90% Democrats, 84% independents, 67% Republicans).“Most Californians favor increasing government funding for child care programs and the EITC,” Baldassare said. “Similarly, overwhelming majorities are in favor of increasing government funding for job training programs, including majorities across political parties.”
- Seven in ten approve of labor unions and a similar share sympathize with actors in their current labor dispute with the studios. Overwhelming majorities (70% adults, 72% likely voters) approve of labor unions, including majorities across party lines (83% Democrats, 71% independents, 54% Republicans). About one-third of Californians (34% adults, 36% likely voters) would like to see labor unions in the US have more power (47% Democrats, 35% independents, 15% Republicans).Asked about the current labor dispute between actors and the film and television studios, overwhelming majorities (76% adults, 77% likely voters)—including solid majorities across party lines (86% Democrats, 73% independents, 62% Republicans)—side with the actors.“Seven in ten Californians approve of labor unions, and one in three want them to have more influence,” Baldassare said. “Overwhelming majorities sympathize with actors in their labor dispute with film and television studios.”
About the Survey
The Californians and Their Economic Well-Being survey is supported with funding from the Arjay and Frances F. Miller Foundation and the James Irvine Foundation.
The findings are based on responses from 2,250 California adult residents. The sampling error is ±3.3 percent at the 95 percent confidence level for the total unweighted sample and ±4 percent for the 1,395 likely voters. Interviewing took place from October 3–19, 2023. For more information, please see the methodology section in the full survey report.
Mark Baldassare is statewide survey director at PPIC, where he holds the Arjay and Frances Fearing Miller Chair in Public Policy. He is founder of the PPIC Statewide Survey, which he has directed since 1998.
The Public Policy Institute of California is dedicated to informing and improving public policy in California through independent, objective, nonpartisan research. We are a public charity. We do not take or support positions on any ballot measure or on any local, state, or federal legislation, nor do we endorse, support, or oppose any political parties or candidates for public office. Research publications reflect the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of our funders or of the staff, officers, advisory councils, or board of directors of the Public Policy Institute of California.