California, in many respects, is a very successful state. Between the year of 1900 and 2017, California has seen a lot of progress and success. These progresses and successes have come in many forms. This includes population growth, technological advancements, and economic advancements. California has also become a trendsetter for many states in the country because of all this success. However, during this timeframe, California has also had a few costs for this success and benefits have not been equally shared or accessible by everyone.
One of the negative consequences associated with the growth of California happened during the early 1990’s, when a huge “national economic recession caught up with the population boom” (Britannica, n.d.). This recession was caused by a multitude of factors. The unemployment rate had risen to 6.7%. The government of the United States also had “decreased defense spending” (Britannica, n.d.). Due to this, the industries of aerospace and military contracting shrunk. These industries were very important to the advancement of California, so this recession caused a big hit to the economy. Construction workers and workers in the aerospace industry suffered the most during this recession, as they had lost more jobs than anyone else. Along with this recession, unfortunately, California also experienced and went through a lot of natural disasters. These disasters included “floods, fires, droughts, and earthquakes” (Britannica, n.d.). With all of these factors combined, the thought of moving to California was quickly declining. While California did eventually start to recover from this recession years later, because of advancements in technology, it could be seen that there was a clear difference “between the affluent and the working class, many of whom were immigrants” (Britannica, n.d.).
Another negative consequence associated with the growth of California is high housing costs and increasing demand, an issue that has been present for many years. Starting in 1970, “the gap between California’s home prices and those in the rest of the country started to widen” (LAO, 2015). In the years between 1970 and 1980, the prices of owning a home increased from “30 percent above U.S. levels to more than 80 percent higher” (LAO, 2015). That percentage has continued to rise year after year. According to the report by the LAO, an average costing house in California is about $440,000. This is more than two and a half times the price of a normal home elsewhere in the country. Since the prices of homes in California is so high, the rent also follows the same pattern. The average price of rent in California is about “50 percent higher than the rest of the country” (LAO, 2015). That is not the only issue when it comes to housing though. With increasing population comes increasing demand for many things, which includes housing. Many people move to California because they think it is probably one of the most alluring places to live. This is a big problem though, because there is not enough housing in California to sustain the population increase. The high housing costs exist because of the increasing demand and lack of supplies. This, in turn, creates somewhat of a competition. This competition drives up the prices and rents of the homes in California. This shortage of housing can also be contributed to the costs of building a home, another thing that comes at a high price, as the labor of construction “is about 20 percent more expensive in California metros than in the rest of the country” (LAO, 2015).
When it comes to prosperity in California, it has not been equally shared. In California, there is a big gap between the rich, also known as the 1 percent, and the rest of the citizens, also known as the 99 percent. Major differences were starting to be seen between the 2 in the 1980’s. Between 1980 and 2012, the 1 percent “nearly doubled their incomes, increasing by 189.5 percent, while incomes for the other 99 percent actually fell by 6.3 percent” (Huffington Post, 2015). This gap can be contributed to a few things. The tech sector is one of the reasons for this gap. Silicon Valley paved the way into technology and the amount of production increased. However, almost “all of the economic benefits went to those at the top, partly because of the spectacular wealth created by the tech sector” (Huffington Post, 2015). Another thing that the gap can be contributed to is education. Researched by the Economic Policy Institute, the salary for an individual with less than a high school degree is continuing to decrease. On the other hand, the salary for individuals with college degrees is continuing to rise. Since the rich can put their children in better than normal schools, they have a higher chance at graduating compared to a family living in poverty. This gap goes ever further beyond class and it reaches into race. On average, when comparing the net worth of African Americans and Latinos to whites, there is a very clear gap. This is because “the average net worth of African Americans is just 14 percent that of whites, and for Latinos just 15 percent that of whites” (Huffington Post, 2015). Even with a bachelor’s degree, people of color still trail behind their white peers by an average of “5 dollars less per hour” (Huffington Post, 2015).
In conclusion, while it can be seen that California has had major successes over the years, it did not come without consequences and prosperity inequality. The recession of the early 1990’s hit California hard and it took some time for the recovery. Housing has seemed to also be an issue that California has faced for many years. It can also be seen that not everybody had or has equal access to benefits and prosperity, since many individuals face extremely challenging obstacles. These obstacles include class, race, or even both. To almost everybody, California is regarded as one of the most successful states in the country. That, though, does not take away from the fact that there were and still are underlying issues that need to be addressed and looked at. If these issues do get looked at and fixed, California can become even more successful than it currently is right now.