CalChamber Poll: Job Optimism, Housing Anxiety, Support for Bipartisanship

California voters are feeling better about the economy, but are still anxious about the cost of living, according to the recently released 2018 CalChamber Poll.

Nearly two-thirds of voters say that more new jobs have been created where they live, up steadily from just 43% in 2015. Job increases have been noticed in every region of the state, including inland California.

In addition to more new jobs overall, voters statewide say that most of the jobs being created lead to higher pay, as opposed to being dead-end jobs. A majority of residents in every region of the state, except the Inland Empire, agreed that most new jobs created may lead to the middle class.

Housing Worries

While optimistic on the job front, voters are worried about affordability. More than three-quarters of voters agree that “earning enough income to enjoy a middle class lifestyle is becoming almost impossible in my part of California.” This sentiment was felt acutely by women, young earners, renters, and families with children living at home.

Indeed, parents are among the most worried of Californians. For the fourth year running, 60% of families with children living at home agree that “my children will have a better future if they leave California.” A majority of California voters, including nearly half of homeowners, say they would pick up and move if another state offered a greater opportunity for homeownership than California.

Nearly half of voters, up from 35% in 2015, viewed the housing shortage as “very significant,” with another third of voters agreeing the housing shortage is “somewhat significant.” But even with strong concerns over the importance of this issue, voters are not sold on the solutions.

The only housing policy direction receiving broad consensus from voters is to create more jobs in areas of the state where housing is cheaper, which will require renewed state and local economic development efforts and the creation of local amenities in inland California.

Voters also were generally agreeable to policies that would reduce litigation over housing projects that local officials have already approved.

Tax Views

Even though voters have agreed to several statewide tax increases in the last six years, there is a limit to their tax-raising impulses.

Proposition 13 continues to be an object of affection for voters, viewed favorably by more than 80% of voters. A majority also would oppose a split-roll property tax initiative.

Voters also by a 3 to 1 margin oppose new taxes on services like lawyers, lawn care or automotive repair, even if applied only to businesses.

Independent Contractors

Voters favor a resolution to the recent California Supreme Court decision on classifying independent contractors, with a strong majority agreeing that “workers should be allowed to have the choice to be an independent contractor if a worker wants more flexibility to set their own schedules, earn more income, and for their chosen quality of life.”

This argument was more persuasive than that “workers should be classified as ‘employees” so that they can receive benefits and other workplace protections.”


California political leaders tout their commitment to reducing our carbon footprint, and voters strongly agree (77%) that it is important that the state “set its own policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

But when it comes to individual policies to achieve those goals, voters remain skeptical. They strongly oppose policies that would:

  • increase electricity bills by 30% to 50% by 2030 (66%);
  • purposely design roads to be more congested or not increase highway capacity (66%);
  • increase the price of housing (65% opposed);
  • increase the price of gasoline by $1 to $2 by 2030 (60%); and
  • impose new fees for driving (54)%.

When ranking environmental challenges, voters say the highest priority for legislative attention should be drought relief and prevention (24%) and managing forests to reduce wildfire risk (23%). Other issues were far less urgent, including encouraging clean energy development (16%), safe drinking water (11%), improving air quality (7%) and reducing greenhouse gas emissions (6%).

Voters are generally satisfied with the status quo in health care. More than 90% are satisfied with their current health insurance, whether provided by employers or the government, and by a nearly 4 to 1 margin prefer their own insurance to a government-run single payer approach.”


Finally, despite the anger and frustration felt by many voters in today’s political climate, the dream of bipartisanship is not dead. More than three-quarters of voters strongly agree that politics is increasingly connected to anger and chaos, rather than achieving practical outcomes, but a like number also agree that it is important for elected officials to work together to find bipartisan solutions and solve problems

Contact: Loren Kaye

Loren Kaye was appointed president of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education in January 2006. He has devoted his career to developing, analyzing and implementing public policy issues in California, with a special emphasis on improving the state's business and economic climate. He also was a gubernatorial appointee to the state's Little Hoover Commission, charged with evaluating the efficiency and effectiveness of state agencies and programs. Kaye served in senior policy positions for Governors Pete Wilson and George Deukmejian, including Cabinet Secretary to the Governor and Undersecretary of the California Trade and Commerce Agency. See full bio.