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The Cost of Being Californian: Soaring Economic Inequity for People of Color

New Report Finds Childcare Overtakes Housing as Biggest Household Expense

Oakland, CA – The Cost of Being Californian, a new report released today from the Insight Center for Community Economic Development (Insight Center), reveals that over one in three Californian households struggle to meet their basic needs, and that precarity rates are highest for communities of color.

“Our research shows what most Californians already know – people are struggling to stay afloat financially, and the situation is far worse for Black and Latinx families,” said President of Insight Center and paper co-author Anne Price. “To curb gender and racial inequality exacerbated by the pandemic, our state and federal leaders must address the soaring costs of childcare and housing.”

Among the report’s other key findings:

  • Childcare is triple the cost in the Bay area. The hourly wage needed for a single parent with two kids to meet their basic household expenses ranges from $27 in small counties in the northeastern part of the state to around $74 an hour in the Bay Area.
  • Black, Native, and Latinx households with no children are more likely to be struggling financially than white households with two children.
  • Having even one child nearly doubles the likelihood that a married couple will teeter on the edge of financial precarity.
  • Childcare is the highest household expense in all California counties, except for five Bay Area counties that have the state’s highest housing costs.
  • Black women householders with a bachelor’s degree face economic precarity at twice the rate of comparable white men. 

The full report can be found here.

“As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and recession, it’s critical relief efforts not only address our present crisis, but also work to reverse racial and gender economic disparities that existed far before the pandemic,” said Insight Center Associate Director of Advocacy and Policy and paper co-author Aisa Villarosa. 

California is already taking important steps to mitigate these disparities, including the recently-passed Golden State Stimulus and criminal fee repeal. The Insight Center supports these measures as well as federal action that paves the path for structural change, including making the American Rescue Plan’s Child Tax Credit expansion permanent and prioritizing child care in the upcoming infrastructure bill.

Contact: Saadia McConville


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About Insight: The Insight Center drives structural, transformative change to build economic inclusion and racial equity for people of color, women, immigrants and marginalized families in the U.S. through three pillars of work: Research and advocacy, narrative change and thought leadership.