Coronavirus Wipes Away Recent Wage Gains For Many California Workers, Report Finds

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Publication: CalMatters

In the five years before the pandemic, low-income Californians had begun to see substantial wage gains, chipping away at the income inequality gap between California’s haves and have-nots that has widened over the past 40 years. But the coronavirus pandemic is “likely stripping away many of these gains,” researchers at the Public Policy Institute of California found in a new report.

The current coronavirus-induced recession has hit low-income workers the hardest, while higher income workers, largely able to work from home, have escaped relatively unscathed. And those acute job losses among low-wage workers — particularly African Americans, Latinos, workers without college degrees and women — have stayed worryingly high through the fall, the researchers found. 

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Last week, Assemblymember Phil Ting, a San Francisco Democrat who chairs the budget committee, announced his priorities for the session. They included transitional kindergarten for all 4-year-olds, more financial aid for college students, more money for low-income families through the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit, and making parents who don’t work eligible for the state’s Young Child Tax Credit of up to $1,000.

“Our major priority is making sure we do everything to get money into the pockets of the most vulnerable Californians,” Ting said. “So many Californians are struggling. They’re on the brink of homelessness.”