Newsom talks California recovery, economy

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Gov. Gavin Newsom painted an optimistic picture of the state’s pandemic recovery on Tuesday, discussing job creation, budget investments and his economic agenda moving into 2022.

The governor addressed a crowd at the California Economic Summit Tuesday, overviewing the state’s ongoing recovery and its performance on the world stage. Despite pandemic-related challenges and reports of businesses leaving California in droves, the governor said the state continues to dominate in growth, innovation, and research and development.

“We are world-beating in terms of our economic growth in the last five years,” the governor said Tuesday. “No other Western democracy has outperformed the state of California – the United States has not, Germany, Japan, the U.K., no other Western democracy has outperformed this state and your economic output – 21% GDP over the last five years. With all due respect to states like Texas, eat your heart out, a modest 12%. That’s California.”

The governor also discussed state spending in this year’s budget, highlighting the state’s nearly $80 billion budget surplus. In addition to $4 billion for electrical vehicle investment and $12 billion for tax rebates, the governor spoke of the state’s $22 billion investment in affordable housing and homelessness, noting that this remains a key priority in his economic agenda moving forward.

“We’ve got to deal with quality of life. We’ve got to deal with homelessness,” the governor said. As the state eyes post-pandemic recovery, Newsom told summit attendees that California currently leads in job creation since January with about 812,000 jobs created thus far. He also said that the poverty rate in the state dropped from 16.2% to 12.3% in 2020, and noted that the state moved 44,000 people into housing last year.

Despite these gains, however, the state still accounts for one third of the nation’s unemployed, according to a September jobs report released from the California Employment Development Department. In addition, an analysis from the Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity released last week found that 25.7% of workers are “functionally unemployed” across the state, meaning they are searching for, but unable to find, full-time work above the poverty level, according to CalMatters. The state’s current unemployment rate hovers around 7.5%.

While the governor did not address the unemployment rate during Tuesday’s summit appearance, he did highlight a $600-million-dollar budget investment to expand opportunity in the state, similar to the Fresno DRIVE Initiative. The initiative, which was started in 2019, aims to create opportunities for residents to move out of poverty into prosperity through an inclusive economy.

“We’re going to fund success,” the governor said. “We want to fund strategies and plans, but we also want to fund leaders and we want to fund doers. At the end of the day, there’s just no substitute for doers and entrepreneurial thinking.”

Madison Hirneisen | Contributed

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