All California children, parents, workers, and community members should have the support they need to meet their basic needs for food, shelter, and other necessities. Yet Californians who are undocumented immigrants, or who have undocumented family members, are blocked from full access to the supports that other Californians can turn to when struggling to meet basic needs. State and federal policies uphold exclusionary practices against undocumented Californians despite them being deeply embedded in our communities and economy.
Our state has a diverse and dynamic economy. Yet, a large share of Californians live in poverty, wages for the typical worker have been stagnant over the past generation, and there is a widening gap between the wealthiest Californians and households with low incomes. Through our analyses of employment, incomes, and overall economic security, the Budget Center seeks to shed light on state and regional trends while highlighting potential policy approaches for helping Californians with low and middle incomes be able to work, live and provide for their families in our communities.
With COVID-19 cases plummeting and vaccine distribution expanding, businesses are picking up hiring. This is bringing hope that California has turned the corner on the pandemic and is setting a path forward for an economic recovery to finally take hold. But as the state begins to emerge from the recession, lawmakers must keep in mind that their policy choices will determine whether the recovery is inclusive of all people and builds toward an economy that works for everyone.
Over the span of a career, most adults need time away from work to care for a new child, a family member, or for their own health. The majority of California workers contribute to the state’s paid family leave and state disability insurance programs and are eligible for paid time off as care needs arise.
Undocumented and mixed status families have been excluded from thousands of dollars in federal aid during the pandemic, even though they are deeply integrated into our communities, workplaces, and schools. For example, two undocumented parents with two children were denied $8,600 to $11,400, depending on whether the children had Social Security numbers.
California is losing jobs again. As COVID-19 cases surged in late 2020 and new restrictions affecting businesses had to be put in place, California began to lose jobs again for the first time since the pandemic began. This deepened the massive hole in the state’s job market. In total, California had 1.5 million fewer jobs in December than in February 2020, the month before the COVID-19 recession began. As 2020 came to an end – and 10 months into the COVID-19 recession – California was still down more jobs than the state lost during the Great Recession.