As usual, California’s latest Monthly Finance Bulletin is filled with data of great relevance to legislator responsibilities:
Jobs: California’s unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent, still much worse than the national unemployment rate, which fell to 6.0 percent. Our non-farm job levels are still 1.6 million below the pre-pandemic level of 17.6 million and Personal Income rose mostly because of federal COVID payments that won’t always be there. Legislators should stay focused on making it easier to hire Californians.
Houses: Units authorized by building permits fell to 116,000, a fraction of what’s needed. Legislators should keep their eyes on making it easier to add housing in California.
Budget: Illustrating once again the disconnect between state tax revenues and state employment, revenues continue well above the 2020–21 Governor’s Budget forecast, led by Personal Income Taxes generated by a hot stock market. In his May Revised Budget we expect Governor Newsom will remind legislators that the state still has a structural deficit and the stock market won’t always be hot, so lawmakers should finance new programs with savings from existing programs and hold the line on compensation increases for state employees.