Wednesday, September 17, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

California falls behind in civic, economic participation

walters column sig

By
From page A11 | June 25, 2014 |

Two major hallmarks of a healthy society – not the only ones, but important ones – are high rates of civic and economic participation.

California is falling way behind in both.

Voter turnout, a basic measure of civic engagement, has declined sharply to a historically low level.

When Jerry Brown first ran for governor in 1974, primary turnout was 54 percent. This month, only about 25 percent of the state’s 17.7 million registered voters, and about 18 percent of those legally eligible, actually cast ballots, continuing California’s steady decline to one of the nation’s lowest rates.

We speculate endlessly about causes of the voting decline, but some fairly hard data are available. We know that voting is high in rural and suburban areas and among older white Californians, but lags among younger, non-white and urban Californians. June 3’s lowest turnout was in highly urbanized, ethnically complex Los Angeles County, about 17 percent.

The wide characteristic gap skews political campaigns, as candidates tailor their appeals to the interests and fears of those likely to vote and ignore those who don’t, thus reinforcing civic fragmentation.

The erosion of voter turnout parallels the decades-long decline in “labor force participation,” the percentage of adults who are either working or seeking work.

California’s rate is now down to 62.5 percent, the lowest since 1978.

Just as low voter turnout distorts our politics, low labor force participation skews our economy, or at least our perceptions of the economy.

The unemployment rate, widely seen as an economic barometer, is the percentage of those in the labor force who are jobless, but if the labor force is declining vis-a-vis the adult population, it makes the unemployment rate look better than it actually is.

A bit of data from a new Census Bureau report illustrates the point. Just under 12.9 million Californians worked for private employers in 2002 and 10 years later, in 2012, the number was virtually unchanged, even though our overall population was about 3.5 million larger.

Another number from the Bureau of Labor Statistics further expands the employment picture.

California’s official unemployment rate averaged 8.6 percent in the past year, but when “marginally attached workers,” plus those working part-time involuntarily, are included in the equation, 16.7 percent of the state’s labor force was unemployed or underemployed – the nation’s second highest rate.

The bottom line is that scarcely half of California’s adults are fully engaged in the working economy. And it’s one reason why, by a new Census Bureau measure, nearly a quarter of Californians are living in poverty, the nation’s highest rate.

High levels of poverty and low levels of civic involvement and gainful employment tell us that California is not a truly healthy society.

Dan Walters is a columnist for the Sacramento Bee. Reach him as dwalters@sacbee.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

David Grant doctor’s mission continues

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1, 3 Comments | Gallery

 
 
Chamber PAC draws candidates to Jelly Belly

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A2, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Damaged dog gets going-away party after getting healthy

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Suisun City slaying suspect case moves forward

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

Touro University to host Zombie Run/Walk

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
Land trust organizes Rockville Trails Preserve hike

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

 
Police enlist help to find armed bandit

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A4, 12 Comments | Gallery

 
Chamber to host Suisun City candidates night

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A5

 
 
 
Coastal Cleanup Day targets local waterways

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Judge questions juror in Calkins case

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A6

Drama reigns supreme with week’s film debuts

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7

 
Anti-drug programs face funding shortfall

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
Fairfield police log: Sept. 14, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: Sept. 15, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

 
Suisun City police log: Sept. 15, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

Suisun City police log: Sept. 14, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Sept. 13, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: Sept. 13, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Weather for Sept. 17, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B14

.

US / World

Woman in wildfire’s path lost almost everything

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Lumber town takes stock after wind-driven wildfire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

PG&E officials leave posts over improper emails

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8 | Gallery

 
Things to know about California groundwater law

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

California drivers must give bikes 3-foot buffer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9, 23 Comments | Gallery

 
San Francisco trying shaming for quake safety

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Governor signs first California groundwater rules

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Hunt on for survivalist charged in trooper killing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

Robbery suspects tried to make off with $15,600

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Top general: US ground troops possible in Iraq

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

Obama: Ebola outbreak a threat to global security

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
UN: Nearly $1 billion needed now to stop Ebola

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

CDC study: Americans’ bellies are expanding fast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 4 Comments | Gallery

 
Blacks, Hispanics have doubts about media accuracy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 2 Comments

School bus driver killed during safety drill

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

 
Iraq parliament rejects interior, defense nominees

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13, 1 Comment

Afghan suicide bomber kills 3 foreign troops

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Mexico airlifts tourists after Hurricane Odile

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

Ukraine lawmakers ratify landmark deal with Europe

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
.

Opinion

 
Time for utility execs to start worrying

By Thomas Elias | From Page: A11

Editorial cartoons for Sept. 17, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
 
Column focus on campaign signs misplaced

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 13 Comments

.

Living

Today in History: Sept. 17, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Sept. 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

My selfish husband neglects and cheats on me. What’s next?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B5

 
Horoscopes: Sept. 17, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

All the flavors of fall in one twice-baked package

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Leave them feeling full with nutritious chia seeds

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6, 1 Comment

A late summer Southern classic – tomato pie

By Elizabeth Karmel | From Page: B6

 
.

Entertainment

CBS: Rihanna out of NFL telecast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Leonardo DiCaprio named UN Messenger of Peace

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

.

Sports

Prep volleyball preview: Big goals for city teams

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Raiders games are like live reruns

By Tony Wade | From Page: B1, 2 Comments

Kazmir, sloppy Athletics lose 6-3 to Rangers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Armijo volleyball team falls to Vintage

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

Peavy, Posey help Giants gain ground in NL West

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Anheuser-Busch, McDonald’s voice NFL disapproval

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Criticism mounting for Vikings, Adrian Peterson

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
McIlroy wins PGA player of the year award

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Grand jury to weigh case of NASCAR’s Tony Stewart

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Sacramento Kings to retire Stojakovic’s jersey

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Broncos, Seahawks top AP Pro32 before rematch

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Union appeals Ray Rice’s indefinite suspension by NFL

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Jaguars sign Rodriguez grad Jensen off practice squad

By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B2

 
Short stay at NASCAR’s party for AJ and Almirola

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Hindsight: a Ryder Cup tradition, like no other

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Senator ties NFL tax status to Redskins name

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

DA: Josh Gordon gets probation in DWI case in NC

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
49ers defense looks to bounce back from tough day

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

.

Business

NASA picks Boeing and SpaceX to ferry astronauts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Web filter lifts block on gay sites

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Alibaba risk: China’s rise leaves out investors

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Corinthian Colleges sued for predatory lending

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

UPS expects to hire up to 95,000 seasonal workers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
US CEOs less optimistic about hiring, spending

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

.

Obituaries

Minnie Watkins Dixon

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Margaret King

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5