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Prosperity Now’s 2018 Scorecard: A Look At California’s Metro Areas

A few months ago we shared with you Prosperity Now’s 2018 Scorecard, which looked at economic and policy indicators by state and overall in the U.S. California is ranked 27th out of 50 states on outcomes such as financial assets and income, business ownership and jobs, housing, healthcare, and education. Our state adopted 27 out of 53 possible policies that can help with income and wealth equality. In terms of business ownership and jobs, California ranked 12 out of 50 and got a “B” grade on policy. 

Prosperity Now recently released the Scorecard’s local data, with a database that is broken down by  city, Congressional district, and even tribal area. Now that we can look at these indicators with more granularity, it is possible to see how each of our state’s regions is faring and which issues are most impacting our local communities. We looked at the data for four of the largest metropolitan areas in California (Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, San Jose) and were able to observe the following highlights:

  • All four of the metro areas have a higher racial and gender parity than the rest of the state and country when it comes to business value. 
    • San Diego has the highest gender parity in terms of business value, with male-owned businesses valued 1.3 times as high as businesses owned by women, compared to 2.7 in California and 3.0 in the United States. 
    • In Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego, white-owned businesses are valued 2.3 times as high as businesses owned by people of color. The disparity is higher in San Jose, with a rate of 2.6 which is closer to California’s 2.7 and the U.S.’ 2.9.
  • All four metro areas have higher unemployment rates compared to the rest of the country, but San Francisco and San Jose fared better than the rest of California. 
    • While the unemployment rate in the U.S. is 4.5%, it is higher in California with 5.1%, and even worse in Los Angeles and San Diego with a rate of 6.2%.
    • In the U.S., unemployment is 1.6 times higher for people of color.  It is slightly lower in California at 1.4, and even more so in Los Angeles and San Jose at 1.2.
  • When it comes to homeownership, which is often the first step to launching a microbusiness, California’s metropolitan areas are doing much worse than the rest of the country. 
    • Median home values in the United States are 3.6 times greater than the median household income, with the figure rising to 7 times for the state of California. The affordability crisis is highest in Los Angeles, where home values are 7.9 times greater than the median household income.
    • Californians also own homes at a lower rate than the rest of the country, with a homeownership rate of 48% in Los Angeles compared to 63% in the U.S.
    • The cost burden for homeowners is also higher in California’s metro areas and highest in Los Angeles, where 45% of homeowners spend more than one-third of their income on expenses derived from owning a home. Meanwhile, the overall U.S. percentage is 28%.

This snapshot paints a picture of cities where strides have been made to close gender and racial gaps in areas like business ownership and unemployment, but which are not enough to counteract the increasing economic inequality. It is imperative for policymakers to look at the whole picture and make choices that help bring down barriers to financial stability, wealth and prosperity. Successful efforts by local advocates and leaders in some of these cities should be used as a blueprint for the rest of the state to combat these worrying trends. 

Below are the outcome reports for these four metro areas, and you can explore the whole database here.