According to new data released by the Census Bureau, five California metropolitan statistical areas were in the top 25 MSAs with the largest numerical population gains between July 2006 and July 2007. The five were Riverside/San Bernardino/Ontario (86,700, or 2.2% gain), San Francisco/Oakland/Fremont (35,900, or 0.9% gain), Sacramento/Arden-Arcade/Roseville (28,400, or 1.4% gain), San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara (28,200, or 1.6% gain), and San Diego/Carlsbad/San Marcos (26,500, or 0.9% gain).
In a new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California, Governor Schwarzenegger’s approval ratings have slipped to 44%, which is down 6 points since January and 13 points since December. The governor’s lowest approval rating was 33%, which was in October 2005.
Approval of the legislature among Californians is down to 30%.
The state’s budget woes, which have been heavily featured in the news lately, are a source of particular concern among Californians, according to the PPIC poll. 68% say that the budget situation is a “big problem.” 56% say that they are “very concerned” about the effects of spending reductions in the governor’s latest budget proposal. 42% prefer a mix of budget cuts and tax increases to deal with the budget crisis. In general, Californians are extremely pessimistic about the way things are going nationally — 73% say that things are going in the wrong direction, the highest point in the 10-year history of the PPIC poll in which this question has been asked.
The poll also asks about Proposition 98, the eminent domain initiative on the June ballot that would restrict or eliminate rent control in jurisdictions in which it is now in effect. 41% of likely voters say that they would vote against Proposition 98. 37% say that they would vote for it. Proposition 99, a competing initiative that would supersede Proposition 98 if it got more votes on the June ballot, garners 53-27% support.
According to the latest figures from the Employment Development Department, the state unemployment rate fell to 5.7% in February, down from 5.9% in January but still up from 5% in February 2007. According to economists, the drop is positive, but statistically (and probably economically) insignificant.
As has been the trend in this economic downturn, the interior counties continue to be hit much harder than the coastal counties. The highest unemployment rate in the state was in Colusa County, at 18.9%. In second and third place were Imperial and Trinity, with 15.9% and 14.6%. Merced and Plumas were fourth and fifth. The counties with the lowest unemployment rates were Marin (3.9%), Mono (4.3%), and Orange (4.3%), with Sonoma and San Francisco close behind.
Despite some news last year that California has been losing residents, four California counties placed in the top 25 counties with the largest numerical population increases between July 2006 and July 2007, according to data released by the Census Bureau today. The four counties are Riverside (66,400, a 3.3% population increase), Santa Clara County (28,100, a 1.6% increase), San Diego County (26,500, a 0.9% increase), and San Bernardino County (20,300, a 1% increase). Riverside placed second in the top 25, behind only Maricopa County in Arizona.
Home sales in California last month made for the the slowest February in at least 20 years, according to information released by DataQuick, the real estate activity information service. (DataQuick’s records go back to 1988.) Sales were down 34% from February 2007. DataQuick indicates that the median price paid for a home last month was $373,000, down 2.6 percent from $383,000 for the month before, and down 21.0 percent from $472,000 for February 2007.
A new report from the Pew Hispanic Center covers the recent surge in Hispanic voter turnout in states critical to the 2008 presidential contest. Among the findings:
- Hillary Clinton would not have won the primary elections on February 5 and March 4 in California and Texas had it not been for the high turnout of Hispanic voters in those states. In California, Hispanic voters favored Clinton over Barack Obama by a margin of 67-32%. In Texas, the margin was almost identical — 66-32%. In New York, the margin was even wider — 73-26%.
- Turnout has been higher among Hispanics in this presidential election year than in 2004 (at least in 16 out of 19 states where exit polling permitted comparisons). In California alone, Hispanic voters accounted for 30% of the total voter turnout on February 5.
- More than half of Hispanic voters in the Super Tuesday Democratic primaries were younger than 45. More than one in five were between the ages of 17 and 29. Just one-third of white voters in the same set of primaries were under 45.
- AS of 2007, Hispanics made up 8.9% of the eligible electorate, up almost a full percentage point from 2004, according to the Census Bureau. That number is expected to rise as more Hispanics become naturalized and as more US-born Hispanics turn 18.
A recent fact sheet from the Public Policy Institute of California points out that housing prices in California have taken the steppest plunge in 25 years, which was about the time the country was in the midst of its last major recession (not counting the recessions of 1990-1991 and 2000-2001, which were shallower and briefer than this recession is expected by many observers to be). Between the fourth quarter of 2006 and the fourth quarter of 2007, housing prices fell by 6.6% in California, whereas two years ago, housing prices were still rising by 21%. Nationally during the same quarters, housing prices nationwide rose by 0.8%. In addition, foreclosures in California were at 1.9% in 2007, well above the national average of 1%. As often occurs in economic downturns, the interior regions of the state were hit harder than the coastal regions. In the San Francisco metropolitan region, home prices fell by only 0.9.%; in Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, and San Jose, home prices fell by less than 4%. However, in Merced, Modesto and Stockton, home prices fell by 15% — the largest one-year decline in any California metropolitan region in at least 30 years. Construction permits also took huge dives in some interior regions, with declines between 2004 and 2007 of 60% in Riverside-San Bernardino, 63% in Modesto, 73% in Stockton, and 76% in Merced.