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Report: Comparing California To Other Key U.S. States

All Issue Areas

Comparing California To Other Key U.S. States

California has long been a leader in innovation, social progress, and economic growth. For the past 150 years, people have flocked to California in search of wealth and prosperity. The state’s natural beauty, diverse geography, beautiful weather, and abundant resources
allowed California to thrive from early in its history, both for adventure-seekers and entrepreneurs. Due to its size, California has boomed in population over the past century, and benefits from a diverse cultural history. In 2020, it boasted six of the 40 largest metropolitan areas in the United States in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Riverside, San Diego, Sacramento, and San Jose.1 In fact, according to the U.S. Census, most of California’s population lives in urban areas—94.2 percent.

The purpose of this report is two-fold: 1) Given our focus on California, this report seeks to establish a baseline of performance metrics to identify, and attempt to quantify, where California is performing well and where it faces significant challenges, and 2) To identify states that serve as California’s primary competition for residents and businesses moving into the future.

This report compares California’s current policy landscape with other states, and highlights, when available, some of the changes that California should consider to secure the state’s social, environmental, and economic future. The report also includes a comparative analysis of California with other states, including Texas, New York, Washington, Florida, and Massachusetts, to identify areas where California can learn from the successes and challenges of these other states. Using this evidence base, the report examines California’s performance across policy domains, identifying key trends and emerging issues that could impact California’s future performance. It argues that California faces significant challenges in the coming years, including a high cost of living, increasing income inequality, and ongoing environmental and social challenges. Finally, the report also highlights the state’s many strengths, including a diverse economy, a commitment to innovation and sustainability, and a rich cultural heritage.

By leveraging these strengths and addressing its challenges, California can remain a leader in the nation and the world, and continue to provide opportunities for all residents to thrive.