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.
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.
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 benefits provide a critical safety net for many workers who lose their jobs, helping them to support their families while they search for new employment. Millions of Californians turned to unemployment benefits after losing work due to the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, policymakers previously failed to require businesses to pay the true costs of unemployment benefits for their workers, leading California to borrow billions of dollars from the federal government to pay for benefits – a repeat of what happened during the Great Recession.
Unemployment benefits provide a critical safety net for many workers who lose their jobs, helping them to support their families while they seek to reenter the workforce. Millions of Californians turned to these benefits after losing work due to the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, state unemployment benefits don’t provide enough money for Californians – particularly those with low incomes – to cover the cost of living.