In recent days, President Trump has signed a series of executive orders relating to the coronavirus pandemic. Trump’s orders authorise an extra $400 in weekly unemployment insurance benefits, and will replace the recently expired $600 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC). The order stipulates that states will pay $100 of the overall $400. In California, Governor Gavin Newsom has insisted his state could not afford to contribute the required $100, estimating that it would amount to a total of $700 million per week.
As California’s unemployment agency approaches an unprecedented 10 million claims from those who have lost working hours or their entire jobs during the crisis, Redfield & Wilton Strategies conducted a poll to assess how Californians felt about their employment prospects.
Overall, 13% of respondents to our poll indicated that they were unemployed, which is line with the trend seen in the Employment Development Department’s (EDD) statistics, when unemployment was down to 14.9% in June from 16.4% in May. The difference between the unemployment rate in our poll and the figures provided by EDD falls within the margin of error of our poll. However, our poll does not attempt to provide competing figures to the official ones; our unemployment figure is included only to show that our sample is representative.
Although the rate of unemployment remains high, a large majority (73%) of Californians currently employed expect to still be employed in the same job at the end of the year. Notably, only 6% say it is unlikely they will be employed in the same job by the close of 2020.
Although unemployment in California still stands around 10% higher than its February level, there was also reasonable optimism among the unemployed, a plurality (43%) of whom expect to be employed by the end of the year. Those out of work may have been encouraged by the speed at which some job openings initially re-emerged. From mid-May to mid-June, 558,200 jobs were created or reinstated in California.
Nevertheless, 28% of unemployed Californians consider it as likely as it is unlikely that they will be employed by the end of 2020, which may reflect the continued uncertainty of the population in relation to the long-term economic impact of the coronavirus. Moreover, a further 21% are pessimistic. Interestingly, optimism about future employment prospects does not vary depending on demography.
Overall, these results suggest that Californians’ continue to retain a relatively high degree of optimism. However, considering the EDD’s struggle with inefficiencies and fraudsters abusing the benefits scheme, along with concerns of federal assistance drying up, the state’s precarious job market should be a great concern for both officials and citizens.