Upward mobility is a key issue for California to address — increasing the opportunity for all Californians will expand the middle class and reduce poverty.
The middle class is shrinking — a trend that needs to be reversed for the sake of California's economy and future generations.
The California Economic Summit highlighted the issue of upward mobility and middle-income jobs at its annual meeting late last year in Sacramento.
Keynote speaker Raj Chetty of Stanford University said reversing the trend isn't just a national or state issue.
“You have to think of it as also a local issue,” he said, pointing out that several regional factors like early education, the quality of schools, zoning and public transportation are part of the solution.
For Kristin Connelly, president & CEO of the East Bay Leadership Council, the fact that poverty is increasing in suburban areas, particularly in some affluent communities, is an indication that housing costs is a fundamental problem to addressing upward mobility.
And Paul Granillo, president and CEO of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership, pointed out that, in his region of 4.5 million people, those who live there are in poverty number 800,000.
“The face of poverty is a single mom with two kids,” he said.
The narrative about addressing upward mobility is already underway. How state legislators, local elected officials, and other business and civic leaders address it — with creative thinking on what government can do, what business can do and what we do for ourselves — will be a focus of the Summit this year (and beyond).
You can watch all of Chetty's keynote speech on upward mobility below: