“The State of Working Sonoma 2018: A Profile of Income and Racial Inequality, Poverty, and Low-Wage Employment”
On Monday November 19th North Bay Jobs with Justice released this report by Jesus Guzman, MPP.
Despite the prolonged recovery from the 2007-2009 Great Recession, inequality in Sonoma County has soared, median household income has stagnated, and wages have fallen for the bottom 60 percent. The number of families in the county who are working poor has increased since 2005, and the crisis of affordable housing has deepened as renter wages and incomes have not kept pace with skyrocketing rents.
Highlights of the report include:
*One in four Sonoma County residents live in families receiving annual incomes of less than 200 percent of the federal poverty line or about $50,200 for a family of four;
*One in five county residents live in working poor families earning less than 200 percent of the federal poverty line with at least one member reporting income from work;
*Women, Latinos and other people of color experience the highest rates of poverty and disproportionately comprise the working poor;
*A living or self-sufficiency wage for Sonoma County is $23 an hour but about three-quarters of the new jobs created between 2014-2024 will pay less than a livable wage.
*Nearly one in two Sonoma County renter households are rent burdened and pay more than 30 percent of their gross monthly income for rent; one quarter are severely rent burdened and pay more than 50 percent for rent.
*Between 2000 and 2016 median rents increased by 25 percent in the county while median renter incomes rose by only 9 percent;
According to researcher Jesus Guzman who authored the report: “The recovery has left behind a majority of working people in the county and the persistence of class and racial disparities has led to widespread economic insecurity.”
Guzman presented a summary of the report at a forum sponsored by the Alliance for A Just Recovery on November 19th in Santa Rosa.
A report backed by the biggest local labor group predicts a bleak future for Sonoma County’s working class unless policy steps are taken to allow low-income families to get a toehold back into the middle class.
The report was released in conjunction with a Monday night event sponsored by the Alliance for a Just Recovery, an umbrella group of local labor, environmental and faith groups calling for greater resources to be devoted towards low-income families as part of the 2017 local wildfire recovery effort.
The alliance — which includes groups such as North Bay Jobs with Justice, the North Bay Labor Council, Sonoma County Conservation Action and the Greenbelt Alliance, among others — contends lower-paid workers have been disproportionately hurt by the October 2017 wildfires, especially as the housing market got much tighter and more expensive after the fires destroyed of about 5,300 homes in the county.
The alliance wants local cities to adopt policies with a greater focus on affordable housing, rent-control policies, establishment of a public bank in Santa Rosa and area cities to implement a $15-per-hour living wage by 2020, three years earlier than it is scheduled to go into effect at the state level.
“A just recovery must include public policy tools to raise the wage floor, make housing more affordable and create good living-wage jobs,” said Emilia Carbajal, program director of the Graton Day Labor Center.
Will Sebastopol adopt a $15-an-hour minimum wage by 2020?
Sebastopol the kickoff point for county-wide campaign to raise the minimum wage
By E.I. Hillin North Bay Bohemian Nov. 20, 2018
Under the current state law signed by Governor Jerry Brown in April 2016, minimum wage is on track to gradually increase until it hits the mark at $15 an hour in 2023.
Some local labor groups are saying that isn’t fast enough.
“To make housing affordable in Sonoma County, we must simultaneously raise the wage floor and find new revenue sources at the local and state level,” said Marty Bennett, co-chair of North Bay Jobs with Justice. “Raising the minimum wage is the fastest way to make housing more affordable.”
Close to Home: North Bay needs a $15 minimum wage By Martin J. Bennett The Press Democrat Nov. 18, 2018
President John F. Kennedy described an entire generation’s experience when he proclaimed that “a rising tide lifts all boats.” But despite the ongoing recovery from the Great Recession, the boats of most working people in California today — including in the North Bay — are sinking.
In response, a movement for raising the minimum wage is emerging in high-cost coastal California communities.
A new report, “The State of Working Sonoma 2018,” shows that inflation-adjusted wages remained flat for the bottom 60 percent of the county’s workforce from 1979-2016, while wages for the lowest 20 percent of workers dropped 11 percent.
In addition, 20 percent of county residents and 40 percent of Latino residents belong to working poor families — earning less than $50,000 annually, with at least one member reporting income from work.
That many boats are sinking is further revealed by the stagnation of inflation-adjusted median household income, which in 2016 was lower than the 2005 prerecession level of $70,700.
This is part of our regional Raise the Wage!campaign where city councils across Sonoma and Marin counties are using our study to help raise wages. Sonoma City Council and Santa Rosa City Councils have already committed to moving forward with our study session, and we are working with Petaluma and Novato City Councils as well. If you think your city council needs to be included or you want to help ensure this ordinance is passed in your city email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
North Bay Jobs with Justice works with Community Partners to launch Fire Relief Fund for Undocumented Community in Sonoma County
Clean Up and Recovery from the fires is now underway, but the need is still great. NBJwJ is committed to ensuring that our community's recovery is a just and sustainable one for all workers affected by the fires, especially the many undocumented workers who will be unable to apply for resources. To that end, we partnered with NBOP and the Graton Day Labor Center to start a fund with Grant Makers for Immigrants and Refugees to support undocumented children, families and community that have also lost either their homes or places of work. We established UNDOCUFUND.ORG to raise funds for this vulnerable group of workers. Please consider giving generously.
Donate here online: UndocuFund.orgor send a check to: UndocuFund c/o GCIR, P.O. Box 1100, Sebastopol, California 95473-1100