California's working families remain undereducated, to their detriment and to the state's, according to a report released on Wednesday.
Among the four million working families in the state, a third are considered lower-income, defined as a family of four earning about $45,000 or less per year, says the report, "Working Hard, Left Behind," released by the Campaign for College Opportunity, an organization to further college access in California. Of those low-income working families, 60 percent have no postsecondary education, the lowest percentage among the 50 states.
Although California's economy is improving, along with its job market, workers with no postsecondary education have continued to lose jobs—about 230,000 during 2010 and 2011—while workers with some college or a bachelor's degree gained about 3.6 million jobs over the same period. Not only are current economic conditions stacked against low-income working families, the report says, but California itself is projected to fall desperately short of the number of college graduates needed to maintain its productivity.
The authors of the report urge policy makers to adopt their suggestions to improve access for low-income students, including adult learners. The suggestions include increasing access and state support for nontraditional college students, building a statewide data system to monitor student progress and outcomes, and crafting policies focused on better preparing and supporting the state's lower-income students.