Keeping up with the Great California Exodus can become a tedious task. Stories about businesses or people, or both, fleeing the state are so common that its sometimes seems they are blended all into one.
Now comes another.
“More Californians are considering fleeing the state as they blame sky-high costs, survey finds,” says the Feb. 13 CNBC headline.
Millennials are the most desperate to escape.
CNBC, reporting on an Edelman Intelligence survey conducted in January, says “63 percent of millennials in the 2019 survey indicated they were considering moving from sunny California. The chief reason for dissatisfaction: housing.”
Overall, “fifty-three percent of Californians surveyed are considering fleeing,” because of the high cost of living, “representing a jump over the 49 percent polled a year ago, according to CNBC.
Nearly three-fourths – 72 percent, across the state, 76 percent in the Bay Area – cited housing costs and availability as “a very serious issue” for California. The basic need of shelter has become such a crisis, says CNBC, that “Californians believe housing costs are four times more threatening to the state’s economy than high health costs.”
Housing costs are another tiresome issue to keep up with in California. Policymakers talk about solutions, but it seems they don’t even know how to fix the problem.
Most likely to depart California, according to this latest survey, are those without college degrees. Elitists on the coast might think “good riddance,” and wish them well on their travels to a Red State. But realists see something else. If the non-college educated working class disappears, “that will leave in California the millennials, who are doing well and are more likely to support socialist ideas,” says Pacific Research Institute President Sally Pipes.
More than half of the state has the same impression. Possibly the worst finding of the survey is that 62 percent “feel that the best days of living in California are behind” rather than ahead.
It’s quite clear Californians aren’t expecting politicians to turn this around. Only 32 percent, compared to 40 percent nationally, trust government. At the same time, 72 percent feel their elected representatives “should be doing more to improve California.”
Nearly as many, 66 percent, said businesses also should be doing more. But businesses are carrying on about as well as can be expected in an environment created by elected representatives that’s so inhospitable that many companies simply give up on California and leave. That can’t do more because they are handcuffed by government.
This doesn’t quite meet the definition of a vicious circle, though it might resemble one at first glance. It’s more of a linear failure triggered by decades of poor public policy. Businesses can’t stop it. But lawmakers could – if they only would.
Kerry Jackson is a fellow with the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.