California’s Big Cities Score Best and Worst for Prosperity

A new report on financial health shows California's big cities are a study in contrasts, representing some of the most and least prosperous in the country. Photo Credit: Pixabay

Research Shows Racial Divide Persists

Suzanne Potter
California News Service

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A new state ranking of Americans’ financial health shows California is home to two of the most prosperous big cities – San Francisco and San Jose – and two of the least prosperous – Fresno and Santa Ana.

The 2018 Prosperity Now Scorecard includes measures of financial health in the 64 biggest U.S. cities, all with populations over 300,000. And no surprise, Silicon Valley is doing well, except on measures of housing affordability, where it is among the worst.

Kasey Wiedrich, director of applied research at Prosperity Now, said although Silicon Valley residents generally have advanced degrees and earn high salaries, relatively few can afford to own a home.

“So, we look at the median home values compared to the median income, and it’s almost ten times higher,” Wiedrich said; “which really, you know, speaks to who can afford to live in a city like San Francisco.”

San Diego scored well on prosperity, at number 14. Fresno and Santa Ana ranked 57th and 60th, respectively. And Los Angeles also fared poorly, at number 48. All three have large immigrant populations, many of whom live paycheck-to-paycheck. And almost 42 percent of people in those metro areas work in jobs that don’t offer health insurance.

Wiedrich added the research found many city-dwellers don’t have a basic nest egg, meaning they haven’t saved enough to cover basic expenses for three months in case of an emergency.

“We think that decades of discrimination really have hindered people’s ability to build wealth and to become economically mobile, and for families to provide for their children a brighter future than they have now,” she said.

The report looked at 26 factors, including family income, assets, debt, emergency savings, home ownership, education, access to healthcare, tax rates and the average cost of housing. When compared with other states, as a whole, California comes out right in the middle – at number 27 for overall prosperity.