As California students of all ages cannot fully return to classrooms due to the COVID-19 pandemic, learning from home and the technology needed exposes the state’s digital divide. Distance learning requires computers, tablets, or other devices as well as a reliable, high-speed internet connection, but inequitable access to this technology creates a persistent digital divide that disproportionately affects low-income, Black, and Latinx students. This digital divide was affecting students’ academic achievement before the pandemic, and distance learning has likely exacerbated these existing disparities.
The health and economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis are severe – and Californians with low incomes are especially hard hit. Changes to jobs, schools, child care settings, and services are particularly disruptive to the millions of Californians who were locked out of the state's prosperity well before the pandemic hit. How should federal and state policymakers respond to ensure Californians who can least afford economic hardship and health setbacks receive the support they need now?
The Budget Center believes that even in times of crisis, California can lead with strategic and targeted policies that achieve the greatest impact for our children, families, individuals, and workers, especially for those locked out of most public supports . We must remember the health of our economy and communities is only as strong as the support we extend to every Californian.
Nearly 1 in 4 California low-income households with children surveyed from late August through October reported sometimes or often not having enough food to eat, according to data from the US Census Bureau looking at how COVID-19 is affecting households.
Millions of Californians are struggling to pay for basic necessities like housing and food amid the worst recession in recent history. California’s unemployment remains extremely high, particularly for Black and brown Californians. What’s more, the financial situation for many people has deteriorated as Congress has failed to extend additional federal unemployment benefits or provide any new economic relief that would significantly help children, families, and individuals who have lost income and cannot safely return to work. This report shows how California’s workers are faring six months into the COVID-19 recession and highlights the urgent need for federal and state policymakers to extend support to people and do more to respond to the economic crisis that is exacerbating health and financial disparities for Californians, especially Black and brown Californians.
Right now, many families do not have enough food on the table, and this problem is particularly acute for Latinx and Black families in California. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, about 1 in 10 Californians sometimes or often lacked access to enough food to support a healthy lifestyle. Struggling to have enough food affects people of all ages, but it is especially harmful to children, as inadequate nutrition can harm their health, development, and learning.
Who is hit hardest by California’s job losses that are far worse than the Great Recession? Women and people of color. In only two months – between February and April of this year – California lost 2.6 million jobs. That’s twice as many jobs as California lost during the Great Recession over almost three years. Senior Policy Analyst Alissa Anderson shares more about what the job losses mean for Californians and what policymakers can do to extend support needed now.