A significant portion of working Californians are struggling with poverty – and hardships on the job.


To better understand the experiences of California workers, The James Irvine Foundation partnered with the Public Religion Research Institute to survey more than 3,300 Californians, including more than 1,000 workers struggling with poverty.

The findings in the 2018 California Workers Report echo what we heard through our statewide Community Listening Sessions and provide a unique snapshot of California’s workforce and how the views of struggling workers compare to their more economically secure counterparts. The report also confirmed other research that shows dramatic racial disparities in the experiences of workers.

To read all the findings, download the full report.



Insights about Working Californians


EXAMPLE FINDING 1: Precariousness

Despite record-low unemployment, California workers are struggling

Nearly one-third (31 percent) of all Californians, and nearly half of California workers reported struggling with poverty. A majority (60 percent) of Californians who are working and struggling with poverty are Latino. Struggling workers experience economic vulnerability and hardships on a regular basis and have often made difficult financial tradeoffs to make ends meet.




Californian workers are losing hope in the American Dream

The American Dream feels out of reach for working Californians – and harder to achieve here than in other states. On the one hand, Californian workers report their economic situation as better than the one they were born into, but they are also skeptical that hard work and determination alone guarantee success.



EXAMPLE FINDING 3: Vulnerability

Californians endure various hardships – and are vulnerable – on the job

Californian workers struggling economically reported disproportionate hardships at their workplace compared to those who are economically secure. Latino and Black workers are more likely than other races/ethnicities to have negative workplace experiences, such as injuries, discrimination, wage theft, and more.




California workers still strive for a better life and career

Working Californians who are struggling tend to believe that the deck is stacked against them economically, but they also believe organizing is important.

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To read about these and other findings, click here for the full report.



Informing Our Strategy


Listening is an important part of Irvine’s strategy. To expand opportunity for low-income California workers we must understand their day-to-day experiences, values and aspirations, and the challenges that they face at work and beyond.

The next step after listening, however, is to use what we hear to inform our grantmaking strategy. Learn more about how we are doing this through our Better Careers and Fair Work initiatives.

download the California Workers report.