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How California’s Booming Job Market Is Making People Homeless

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California is thriving under a $3 trillion economy and record low unemployment, with some of the largest corporations in the world — Google, Facebook and Apple — calling the state home. But the Golden State, perhaps, is seen through rose-colored glasses, with the glitz, glamour and sunshine overshadowing the real struggle of some California residents. The state has some of the highest wages in the country — but also the highest poverty rate.

That’s based on the cost of living, and most people can’t afford to pay that price. Housing costs in California are some of the most expensive in the United States, with 43% of California voters saying they can’t afford to live there. According to the Los Angeles Times, the city of Los Angeles spent $619 million on housing and services for the homeless in 2018. Yet homelessness in Los Angeles County was up 12% last year, with chronic homelessness up 17%.

Many homeless adults say their lack of housing can be attributed to job loss, with pain points focused on the ever-increasing price of rent in California’s cities. While homelessness often is associated with a lack of shelter and affordable housing options, it also can be attributed, in part, to unemployment and the desperate need for a regular paycheck.

The Times reported that 60% of homeless young adults are actively seeking work, but this percentage sharply decreases the longer people spend on the streets. This paints an interesting picture surrounding income inequality and the general quality of life in a state that is glossed with Silicon Valley shine.

To determine which cities and communities are most affected by California’s booming job market and the resulting homelessness, GOBankingRates analyzed Zillow housing and rental value data from January 2015 and January 2020. This data looked at cities where the typical home or rental value was below the California state average in 2015 but above the state average in 2020. This study also looks at the unemployment rate for each city’s metro statistical area, the five-year percentage change for both the home/rental value of each city and the unemployment rate for each metro area. Home values and rental values are ranked separately in this study, with the highest-scored city being first in each category.

Last updated: March 19, 2020

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California Home Values

This study looked at cities where the home value was below the California state average in 2015 but above the state average in January 2020.

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El Sobrante, California

  • Metro area: San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward
  • January 2015 home value: $328,518
  • January 2020 home value: $596,962
  • 5-year change in home value: 81.71%
  • January 2015 metro area unemployment rate: 4.8%
  • December 2019 metro area unemployment rate: 2.2%
  • 5-year change in unemployment rate: -54.17%

DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Vernalis, California

  • Metro area: Modesto
  • January 2015 home value: $385,153
  • January 2020 home value: $669,527
  • 5-year change in home value: 73.83%
  • January 2015 metro area unemployment rate: 11.0%
  • December 2019 metro area unemployment rate: 5.6%
  • 5-year change in unemployment rate: -49.09%

Pictured: Downtown Modesto

Beto Chagas / Shutterstock.com

Emeryville, California

  • Metro area: San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward
  • January 2015 home value: $397,399
  • January 2020 home value: $583,129
  • 5-year change in home value: 46.74%
  • January 2015 metro area unemployment rate: 4.8%
  • December 2019 metro area unemployment rate: 2.2%
  • 5-year change in unemployment rate: -54.17%

Pictured: Pixar Animation Studios is located in Emeryville

Ivan_Sabo / Shutterstock.com

Imperial Beach, California

  • Metro area: San Diego-Carlsbad
  • January 2015 home value: $388,960
  • January 2020 home value: $599,931
  • 5-year change in home value: 54.24%
  • January 2015 metro area unemployment rate: 5.8%
  • December 2019 metro area unemployment rate: 2.8%
  • 5-year change in unemployment rate: -51.72%

benedek / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Inglewood, California

  • Metro area: Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim
  • January 2015 home value: $362,101
  • January 2020 home value: $584,964
  • 5-year change in home value: 61.55%
  • January 2015 metro area unemployment rate: 7.1%
  • December 2019 metro area unemployment rate: 3.6%
  • 5-year change in unemployment rate: -49.30%

Chris Allan / Shutterstock.com

Herald, California

  • Metro area: Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade
  • January 2015 home value: $411,605
  • January 2020 home value: $586,745
  • 5-year change in home value: 42.55%
  • January 2015 metro area unemployment rate: 6.7%
  • December 2019 metro area unemployment rate: 3.2%
  • 5-year change in unemployment rate: -52.24%

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Gardena, California

  • Metro area: Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim
  • January 2015 home value: $406,633
  • January 2020 home value: $578,272
  • 5-year change in home value: 42.21%
  • January 2015 metro area unemployment rate: 7.1%
  • December 2019 metro area unemployment rate: 3.6%
  • 5-year change in unemployment rate: -49.30%

Alexandre Oliveira / Getty Images

Carson, California

  • Metro area: Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim
  • January 2015 home value: $407,676
  • January 2020 home value: $568,887
  • 5-year change in home value: 39.54%
  • January 2015 metro area unemployment rate: 7.1%
  • December 2019 metro area unemployment rate: 3.6%
  • 5-year change in unemployment rate: -49.30%

Paul Sullivan / Flickr.com

Avocado Heights, California

  • Metro area: Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim
  • January 2015 home value: $416,409
  • January 2020 home value: $564,948
  • 5-year change in home value: 35.67%
  • January 2015 metro area unemployment rate: 7.1%
  • December 2019 metro area unemployment rate: 3.6%
  • 5-year change in unemployment rate: -49.30%

Pictured: Fry’s Electronics in the City of Industry, which surrounds Avocado Heights

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West Carson, California

  • Metro area: Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim
  • January 2015 home value: $417,005
  • January 2020 home value: $564,527
  • 5-year change in home value: 35.38%
  • January 2015 metro area unemployment rate: 7.1%
  • December 2019 metro area unemployment rate: 3.6%
  • 5-year change in unemployment rate: -49.30%

Pictured: Aerial view of South Bay neighborhoods, including West Carson

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Acampo, California

  • Metro area: Stockton-Lodi
  • January 2015 home value: $381,150
  • January 2020 home value: $567,350
  • 5-year change in home value: 48.85%
  • January 2015 metro area unemployment rate: 10.5%
  • December 2019 metro area unemployment rate: 5.7%
  • 5-year change in unemployment rate: -45.71%

Pictured: Winery brick building near Acampo

DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Farmington, California

  • Metro area: Stockton-Lodi
  • January 2015 home value: $416,442
  • January 2020 home value: $616,932
  • 5-year change in home value: 48.14%
  • January 2015 metro area unemployment rate: 10.5%
  • December 2019 metro area unemployment rate: 5.7%
  • 5-year change in unemployment rate: -45.71%

Pictured: Stockton, California

Clotee Pridgen Allochuku / Wikimedia Commons

Seaside, California

  • Metro area: Salinas
  • January 2015 home value: $402,276
  • January 2020 home value: $563,817
  • 5-year change in home value: 40.16%
  • January 2015 metro area unemployment rate: 12.5%
  • December 2019 metro area unemployment rate: 7.2%
  • 5-year change in unemployment rate: -42.40%

peterleabo / Getty Images/iStockphoto

California Rental Values

This study looked at cities where the rental value was below the California state average in 2015 but above the state average in January 2020.

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The Sea Ranch, California

  • Metro area: Santa Rosa
  • January 2015 rentals value: $2,142
  • January 2020 rentals value: $2,826
  • 5-year change in rentals value: 31.93%
  • January 2015 metro area unemployment rate: 5.3%
  • December 2019 metro area unemployment rate: 2.4%
  • 5-year change in unemployment rate: -54.72%

Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

Freedom, California

  • Metro area: Santa Cruz-Watsonville
  • January 2015 rentals value: $2,104
  • January 2020 rentals value: $2,774
  • 5-year change in rentals value: 31.84%
  • January 2015 metro area unemployment rate: 10.2%
  • December 2019 metro area unemployment rate: 4.9%
  • 5-year change in unemployment rate: -51.96%

Pictured: Santa Cruz, California

Kevin Yuan / Shutterstock.com

Rohnert Park, California

  • Metro area: Santa Rosa
  • January 2015 rentals value: $2,054
  • January 2020 rentals value: $2,584
  • 5-year change in rentals value: 25.80%
  • January 2015 metro area unemployment rate: 5.3%
  • December 2019 metro area unemployment rate: 2.4%
  • 5-year change in unemployment rate: -54.72%

Kenishirotie / Shutterstock.com

Cotati, California

  • Metro area: Santa Rosa
  • January 2015 rentals value: $2,102
  • January 2020 rentals value: $2,631
  • 5-year change in rentals value: 25.17%
  • January 2015 metro area unemployment rate: 5.3%
  • December 2019 metro area unemployment rate: 2.4%
  • 5-year change in unemployment rate: -54.72%

Sebastopol, California

  • Metro area: Santa Rosa
  • January 2015 rentals value: $2,237
  • January 2020 rentals value: $2,793
  • 5-year change in rentals value: 24.85%
  • January 2015 metro area unemployment rate: 5.3%
  • December 2019 metro area unemployment rate: 2.4%
  • 5-year change in unemployment rate: -54.72%

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Santa Rosa, California

  • Metro area: Santa Rosa
  • January 2015 rentals value: $2,077
  • January 2020 rentals value: $2,564
  • 5-year change in rentals value: 23.45%
  • January 2015 metro area unemployment rate: 5.3%
  • December 2019 metro area unemployment rate: 2.4%
  • 5-year change in unemployment rate: -54.72%

peterleabo / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Petaluma, California

  • Metro area: Santa Rosa
  • January 2015 rentals value: $2,223
  • January 2020 rentals value: $2,744
  • 5-year change in rentals value: 23.44%
  • January 2015 metro area unemployment rate: 5.3%
  • December 2019 metro area unemployment rate: 2.4%
  • 5-year change in unemployment rate: -54.72%

Windsor, California

  • Metro area: Santa Rosa
  • January 2015 rentals value: $2,137
  • January 2020 rentals value: $2,613
  • 5-year change in rentals value: 22.27%
  • January 2015 metro area unemployment rate: 5.3%
  • December 2019 metro area unemployment rate: 2.4%
  • 5-year change in unemployment rate: -54.72%

Pictured: Santa Rosa, California

Marina, California

  • Metro area: Salinas
  • January 2015 rentals value: $1,968
  • January 2020 rentals value: $2,645
  • 5-year change in rentals value: 34.40%
  • January 2015 metro area unemployment rate: 12.5%
  • December 2019 metro area unemployment rate: 7.2%
  • 5-year change in unemployment rate: -42.40%

Pictured: Salinas Valley

Coro / Wikimedia Commons

El Sobrante, California

  • Metro area: San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward
  • January 2015 rentals value: $2,236
  • January 2020 rentals value: $2,614
  • 5-year change in rentals value: 16.91%
  • January 2015 metro area unemployment rate: 4.8%
  • December 2019 metro area unemployment rate: 2.2%
  • 5-year change in unemployment rate: -54.17%

Ron_Thomas / Getty Images

San Diego

  • Metro area: San Diego-Carlsbad
  • January 2015 rentals value: $2,216
  • January 2020 rentals value: $2,619
  • 5-year change in rentals value: 18.19%
  • January 2015 metro area unemployment rate: 5.8%
  • December 2019 metro area unemployment rate: 2.8%
  • 5-year change in unemployment rate: -51.72%

Chris LaBasco / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Granite Bay, California

  • Metro area: Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade
  • January 2015 rentals value: $2,193
  • January 2020 rentals value: $2,561
  • 5-year change in rentals value: 16.78%
  • January 2015 metro area unemployment rate: 6.7%
  • December 2019 metro area unemployment rate: 3.2%
  • 5-year change in unemployment rate: -52.24%

Pictured: Sacramento, California

Solidago / Getty Images

Seaside, California

  • Metro area: Salinas
  • January 2015 rentals value: $2,110
  • January 2020 rentals value: $2,684
  • 5-year change in rentals value: 27.20%
  • January 2015 metro area unemployment rate: 12.5%
  • December 2019 metro area unemployment rate: 7.2%
  • 5-year change in unemployment rate: -42.40%

Pictured: Salinas, California

WATimmer / Shutterstock.com

Castroville, California

  • Metro area: Salinas
  • January 2015 rentals value: $2,052
  • January 2020 rentals value: $2,564
  • 5-year change in rentals value: 24.95%
  • January 2015 metro area unemployment rate: 12.5%
  • December 2019 metro area unemployment rate: 7.2%
  • 5-year change in unemployment rate: -42.40%

Methodology: GOBankingRates used Zillow’s January 2015 and January 2020 housing and rental value data to determine those cities in which the typical home value/rental value was below the California state average in January 2015, but above the California state average in January 2020. Once these qualifying cities were determined, GOBankingRates found the January 2015 and December 2019 unemployment rate for each city’s metro statistical area. GOBankingRates then found the (1) five-year percentage change in home value/rental value for each city and the (2) five-year percentage change in unemployment rate for each metro area to rank the qualifying cities. Each factor was scored, with the lowest score being best, and then combined. All data was compiled and is up to date as of Feb. 25, 2020.