COVID-19 has disrupted California Community College (CCC) students’ higher education plans, causing many to reduce their course loads or pause their education altogether. The CCCs serve high percentages of students of color and students with low incomes, and drops in enrollment can further narrow educational opportunities and undermine workforce development priorities statewide.
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.
While many Californians hoped to put the pandemic behind us by now, COVID-19 is still with us. And we know COVID-19-related hardships have put immense health and economic stress on families, especially low-income households and Californians of color. Yet, Californians are losing key housing, sick leave, and economic supports that have been a lifeline.
Workers need paid time off during a pandemic to abide by public health guidelines, stop the spread of illness, and care for family members. California’s temporary COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave – approved by the state Legislature – is an important public health tool that provides workers with up to 80 hours of paid time off to care for their health or family members’ health.1 Unfortunately, COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave ends September 30, 2021, even though community transmission of the virus remains high in many counties across the state.
Millions of California workers turned to unemployment insurance benefits over the last 18 months after suddenly losing their jobs – a reality that can hit workers, families, and communities, pandemic or not. In trying times, everyone should have the opportunity to buy food, pay rent, and care for their families as they look for new, stable employment. State and federal unemployment insurance benefits are the lifeline that help families keep their homes and put food on the table.
Unemployment among Californians has stalled around 10% for six months. In July 2021, 9.5% of Californians in the labor force wanted to work but had yet to find a job, only slightly down from 10.4% in February 2021. This is based on a more accurate measure than the “official” unemployment rate, which has understated the jobs crisis during the pandemic.