What does this indicator measure?

This indicator measures the percentage of people aged 25 to 64 who are employed.

The connection to health

Every household should be able afford the necessities of a healthy life—medical care, healthy food, quality housing, education, and other basics.  Stable employment provides people with the income necessary to buy these goods and services and maintain good health.1 Research indicates that economic opportunity, especially having a job, is one the most powerful predictors of good health, and that impacts on health are especially pronounced for people in or near poverty.  Employment can also help people avoid trauma and chronic stressors such as violence and insecure housing and food.  These stressors have strong and long-term effects on both mental and physical health, and can even influence the health of one’s children and grandchildren.1,2,3, 4, 5, Unemployment and perceived job insecurity are associated with depression, anxiety, and overall poor health.6, 7 Wages are also an important factor in employment, as sufficient income makes it less necessary for people to work long hours and/or multiple jobs, making it more possible to engage with their communities, cook healthy meals, spend time with family and friends, go to medical appointments, and participate in physical activity and other healthy activities.8,9,10 Finally, employment makes it more possible to afford to live in places with healthy community conditions like parks, good schools, employment, clean air, and safe streets.1,11

Where to start?

Increasing employment requires a range of policies designed to develop the workforce, build the economy, and ensure that workers can get to jobs. California is one of the richest states (10th) in the U.S., with a median income of $62,000 a year. Yet it is also one of the states with the highest rates of income inequality (6th), and nearly a million people in the state are unemployed.16, 17 Amidst overall prosperity, many neighborhoods have been left behind, and approximately nine million families and two million children live in poverty in California.16 Stable employment is crucial to ensuring that all Californians have what they need. Local governments wishing to improve employment outcomes should Build Workforce Development and Pathways to ensure that people the training, education, and other opportunities they need to access good jobs. They should also Develop Community Economic Capacity to increase the number, quality and accessibility of jobs for local residents. Governments should also seek to Improve Transportation Access to Economic Opportunity for those in poverty.