Plenty of workers still move West each year for a new job in California. But the state’s high cost of housing may be deterring many other job seekers from moving into the state.
Business leaders up and down the state say California’s expensive housing makes it challenging to recruit new workers — and to keep existing employees here.
“You’re competing, now, with a low unemployment rate in California, and people have options,” said Mary Leslie, president of the Los Angeles Business Council. In April, the state’s unemployment rate hit a record low of 4.2 percent.
“If we don’t have the affordable housing, we’re not as competitive,” Leslie said.
Job recruiters see California’s housing crisis from both sides. They work with employers feeling pressure to raise wages, and they talk with job seekers scared off by median home prices that top $1 million in parts of the Bay Area, and over $500,000 in Los Angeles and San Diego counties.
But Matt Stone, a Los Angeles recruiter with Proven Recruiting, said plenty of workers are still drawn to sunny California.
“Living near the beach, having that active lifestyle, being able to see the Hollywood stars every once in awhile,” Stone said. “Those are the reasons for the people who aren’t from here.”
And he should know. Stone is a transplant himself, moving from upstate New York in 2016. He’s able to walk job seekers through the perks of taking a new job in California, and guide them away from the neighborhoods that could lock them into a terrible commute.
During a call with a certified public accountant in North Carolina, Stone asked, “Have you been out to L.A. before?”
“I have,” said the candidate, who we’re not naming to protect his job with his current employer. “There’s always downsides to everywhere that you go. And I know that there, it’s the crowds and traffic,” he said.
And, of course, California’s sky-high housing costs. The median price of a California home — now $538,640, according to the California Association of Realtors — is more than double the national median home price.
The kind of financial workers Stone recruits could always find work in a less expensive part of the country. They do get a pay bump in California, but their annual salary alone is often not enough to…