The Most Surprising Result in PRI’s California Business Climate Survey
This week, PRI’s scholars are offering their perspectives on different aspects of PRI’s new survey of business executives in high-demand fields who aren’t expanding in the Golden State.
Reading the survey results, a lot of the findings were what you might expect.
For example, 71 percent said that the state’s labor laws and regulations played a factor in their relocation decisions about California. Meanwhile, 58 percent said that tax reform would positively impact their relocation decisions.
But what jumped off the page to me was that it was more than just California’s high tax burden, costly regulation, and poisonous legal climate why they were not relocating their operations here. “Quality of life” issues for their employees like housing and education also ranked very high.
On housing, 88 percent said that California’s high real estate costs were a key factor in their location decisions. However, they weren’t just concerned about the cost of real estate for their companies. Many executives said they were concerned that high real estate costs would make it harder for them to attract and retain workers.
One executive said, “most of my manufacturing personnel could not afford to live there.” Another said that, “the higher the property value, the higher the wages . . . and more money out of the company.” A third said that, “the ability to live there is difficult for employees.”
On education, 63 percent cited the quality of education in California as a major factor in their location decisions.
The ability to attract the skilled workforce they are seeking was one concern. One executive said that, “having a skilled workforce and highly qualified employees is necessary.” Another said that improved schools, “would allow us to attract higher quality candidates.”
But they were also concerned for their employees’ ability to send their children to good schools. One executive said that poor California schools, “would affect my employees’ kids.” Another said that, “everyone wants (their) children to have a good education.”
Our survey is further proof that California policymakers clearly have a long way to go to change the hearts and minds of many business executives – even those in the industries they want the most here like clean tech.
But it also shows that Sacramento must get serious about ending the status quo to improve our schools and build more housing supply if we are going to make any real progress in bringing these naturally-California jobs to the Golden State.
Tim Anaya is communications director for Pacific Research Institute.