By Jessa Bedayn at the Los Angeles Daily News
November 4, 2021
Officially, California has 1.4 million unemployed residents, but a new study that takes into account people who can’t find jobs that pay above the poverty level says the number is three times higher at 4.8 million.
The analysis by the Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity, an organization focused on studying the economic well-being of middle and lower-income Americans, found 25.7% of California workers are “functionally unemployed,” meaning they are seeking, but unable to find, full-time employment paying above the poverty level. That’s compared to the state’s 7.5% unemployment rate.
“Policy leaders, by these headlines and statistics, have been deluded into thinking things are better off than they are,” said LISEP chairman Gene Ludwig, who served as U.S. Comptroller of the Currency under President Bill Clinton.
The organization’s new, more inclusive analysis is part of a broader movement to revamp outdated methods of gauging poverty and unemployment. The chair of the Federal Reserve, Jerome H. Powell, wrote in February that “published unemployment rates during COVID have dramatically understated the deterioration in the labor market.” And a report released earlier this year from United Ways of California, an antipoverty advocacy organization, used a “real cost measure” to estimate that 3.5 million working households in the state don’t make enough to meet their most basic necessities.
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