Poll finds Californians see wealth gap growing

By From page A5 | July 03, 2014

SACRAMENTO — A majority of Californians are unhappy with income distribution in the state but are divided over whether the government should do more to intervene or further raise the minimum wage, according to a Field Poll released Wednesday.

The survey found that 54 percent of California adults said they were dissatisfied with the way income and wealth are distributed, compared to 38 percent who said they were satisfied. The view is shared by similar numbers of Democrats and Republicans and across virtually all age, income and gender groups. Those who classified themselves as political independents were more comfortable than those who identified with either major party, with 48 percent dissatisfied and 44 percent satisfied.

Nearly six in 10 adults believe the gap between the wealthy and everyone else is growing.

The findings come amid a national debate about low-wage workers and the widening income gap. In San Francisco, some residents have staged protests over rising rents, driven partly by a surge of wealthy high-tech workers from Silicon Valley.

California’s first increase in the minimum wage in six years also started Tuesday, rising to $9 an hour. It will climb to $10 an hour in 2016.

Nearly half of those surveyed by Field said the minimum wage should be raised even further, while 37 percent said the increases already taking effect are adequate. About one in 10 believes the rate has already been raised too much.

The income gap also is expected to play a role in this year’s race for governor, in which Republican Neel Kashkari has sought to highlight California’s status as having the highest poverty rate in the nation as he challenges incumbent Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.

To combat poverty, Kashkari proposes overhauling the state’s school system, expanding tax credits to promote job creation and passing policies “that support economic opportunity for all, not just the select few.”

Both gubernatorial candidates are wealthy.

Before the June primary, Kashkari pegged his net worth below $5 million. He has since given his campaign more than $2 million. Brown has reported investments valued anywhere from $430,000 to $4.3 million.

In the Field Poll, Californians were sharply divided along partisan lines over how much they believe government should do to try to reduce the wealth gap. About a third said a lot should be done, a third said some should be done and a quarter of respondents said government should not do much to intervene.

Californians who were born in another country, blacks and those with household incomes below $60,000 were among those most likely to believe the government should do more to tackle wealth inequality.

Immigrants reported being more satisfied with the way income is distributed in California than those who were born in the U.S., but 43 percent still said they believe the government should “do a lot” to reduce disparity.

Amid a national discussion about wage and income disparity, much of which has focused on workers in the fast-food sector, President Barack Obama proposed raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. After failing to gain traction in Congress, he is now pushing cities and states to raise wages on their own.

New York City, Chicago, San Francisco and Oklahoma City are among those debating increases. The Seattle City Council voted this month to begin raising that city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour starting next year.

The Field Poll interviewed 1,020 adults from June 5-22. The poll has a sampling error margin of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.


The Associated Press

The Associated Press


Discussion | 11 comments

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  • Tax PayerJuly 03, 2014 - 5:27 am

    Here's the solution. Have all of the liberal rich folks donate 50% of their income to the poor. They will feel a whole lot better! Not!

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  • DanielJuly 03, 2014 - 6:18 am

    This is the natural fruit of Obamanomics something that the "Progressives" refuse to acknowledge or deal with except for parroting Robin Hood rhetoric with no action.

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  • JimboJuly 03, 2014 - 8:18 pm

    So in your bias rich conservatives get to keep everything and relish their greed. Why am I not surprised? Now get up. The constant flinging yourself to the ground in every post has gotten old.

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  • JagJuly 03, 2014 - 10:49 am

    Are you talking about a gubernatorial race just to fill space because we really don’t have one,

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  • Rick WoodJuly 03, 2014 - 11:11 am

    One gap we need to be concerned about is the one between the federal minimum wage and state & local ones. It's not sustainable if too large. We need to link the minimum wage to the poverty level and leave it there. 90% of the poverty income level would be about right, but I'd be open to a debate about that.

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  • JimboJuly 03, 2014 - 8:30 pm

    Living in poverty at 90% is still poverty. The minimum wage should be enough that anyone working full time is not under the poverty line and so poor that taxpayers end up footing what their employer is too cheap to supply. Walmart alone costs American taxpayers 1.5 BILLION every year for this.

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  • Rick WoodJuly 04, 2014 - 6:21 am

    The minimum wage has never been a living wage, not was it ever intended to be so.

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  • CD BrooksJuly 04, 2014 - 7:34 am

    Rick, that is exactly right! I have tipped at 20% my entire adult life. Then I said no more fast food no more tipping with these wage increases. Yesterday, we took the kids to a movie and lunch at Red Robin. I struggled with the thought and did not leave a tip. I still feel guilty but I just cannot support the effort.

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  • Rick WoodJuly 03, 2014 - 11:15 am

    The minimum wage is relatively unimportant to closing the income gap. We should instead accept the income gap and make our tax system more progressive. That way wealth and income would feed back into our system so that all benefit.

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  • ABCJuly 03, 2014 - 1:02 pm

    How naive!

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  • Rick WoodJuly 03, 2014 - 2:58 pm


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