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Comparing California to other states has become a common exercise among politicians, academicians and in the media.

So how does California really shape up? Next 10, an organization dedicated to looking into California's future, commissioned David Neumark and Jennifer Muz of the University of California, Irvine, to produce a voluminous study of California's economy vis-à-vis other states. Among its findings:

  • California's economy, although battered by the worst recession since the Great Depression, has been performing more or less on a par with those of other states in recent years;
  • California's job growth has been "more sluggish than many other states," particularly in the manufacturing sector.
  • The recession hit non-white workers especially hard, and the employment gap between whites and Latinos is markedly wider than in other states.
  • Median weekly earnings tend to be higher in California than in other states, but in inflation-adjusted terms have been stagnant for the past two decades, largely because of a surge in lower-paid Latino workers.
  • Income disparity has increased, with sharp gains in upper-income brackets, stagnation in the economic middle class and declines in lower-income groups.
  • Poverty has been on the increase in California, relative to other states, especially when the state's above-average cost of living is factored.


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