Sonoma County plans Latino socioeconomics 'scorecard' to help balance community success

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Latinos in Sonoma County

• Approximately 132,000 Latinos live in Sonoma County. Their median age is 27 years old (compared to 49 years old for white residents).

• Latinos make up 27 percent of Sonoma County’s labor force, predominately working in agriculture, grounds and building maintenance, service-related jobs, construction, food processing, and textiles and furnishings.

• There are approximately 6,760 Latino-owned businesses in Sonoma County, making up about 13 percent of all county businesses.

• The estimated aggregate household income for Latinos in Sonoma County is $2.31 billion.

Development of a Sonoma County Latino Scorecard — tracking in key areas of Latino life such as housing and health — was among the ideas detailed Sept. 26 at at the State of the Latino Community conference organized by Los Cien, the county's largest Latino leadership organization.

The scorecard tracks key drivers of socioeconomic mobility and well-being of Latino residents in Sonoma County clustered in five categories: political participation, education, financial stability, neighborhood engagement and health and environment, according to Leah Murphy, program and planning evaluation analyst at Sonoma County Human Services,

Herman Hernandez, chairman of Los Cien ("The 100") and Magali Telles, executive director, described how the 10-year-old organization grew from a few individuals meeting for lunch in a back room of Mary's Pizza Shack in Santa Rosa in 2009 to over 1,600 supporters in Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino and Lake counties. The sixth annual event brought together over 600 Latino leaders, partners, supporters and elected officials in the Sonoma State University Student Center ballroom.

The economy is not working for everyone. We need strategic, inclusive and sustainable growth.Aneesh Raman, senior adviser for Gov. Gavin Newsom

Keynote speaker Aneesh Raman, senior adviser on strategy, external affairs, economic development and planning for Gov. Gavin Newsom, observed that California is both the richest and the poorest state, with 114 consecutive months of job growth, while one in five children live at or below the poverty level.

“The economy is not working for everyone. We need strategic, inclusive and sustainable growth,” Raman said.

Oscar Chavez, emphasized the importance of participation in the 2020 U.S. Census. For every person not counted, he said the county can lose $2,000 a year in government funding, or $20,000 over a 10-year period between census polls.

“It’s about leveraging the power of data found in the scorecard to make positive changes, such as how to prioritize investments and realize financial stability, how to increase political participation among Latinos, how to address the causal factors driving key issues, defining potential strategies needed to cope with these issues, and how to mobilize communities to implement action programs — as well as ways to foster greater neighborhood engagement while improving the health and environment of all county residents,” Chavez said.

10 DRIVERS OF MOBILITY

Murphy explained how the scorecard is designed to track 10 key drivers of socioeconomic mobility and well-being in five categories:

Political participation: Fifty-nine percent of Latinos age 18 and above are registered to vote, versus 77% for all Sonoma County. Latinos represent 11% of elected officials (among county board of supervisors and local city councils, not counting school boards). White elected officials account for 89%.

Education: Twenty-five percent of Latino children are ready for kindergarten, versus 46% among whites. Eleven percent of Latinos have a Bachelor of Arts degree or higher, compared with 39% of whites.

Financial stability: The median income among Latino households is $59,000, but for whites it is $76,000. For home ownership, Latinos make up 38%, while for whites the figure is 65%.

Neighborhood engagement: This looks at impacts of low neighborhood resources, high poverty rates, lower educational attainment, high traffic density, air pollution and drinking water contaminants. These factors affect 65% of Latino communities and 36% of white neighborhoods. Linguistic isolation (limited English-speaking households) is found among 30% of Latinos and 6% of whites in the county.

Latinos in Sonoma County

• Approximately 132,000 Latinos live in Sonoma County. Their median age is 27 years old (compared to 49 years old for white residents).

• Latinos make up 27 percent of Sonoma County’s labor force, predominately working in agriculture, grounds and building maintenance, service-related jobs, construction, food processing, and textiles and furnishings.

• There are approximately 6,760 Latino-owned businesses in Sonoma County, making up about 13 percent of all county businesses.

• The estimated aggregate household income for Latinos in Sonoma County is $2.31 billion.

Health and environment: Children up to age 17 who have two or more adverse childhood experiences (ACE) make up 15% of the Sonoma County population. It has not been broken out by ethnicity. In terms of adult obesity (adults age 18 and older with a body mass index of 30 or higher), incidence among Latinos is 33% and for whites, 23%.

HOW TO GET TO 'SUSTAINABLE GROWTH'

Raman from Newsom's office detailed what's needed for strategic, inclusive and sustainable growth.

"The big issues involve failures associated with the quality of jobs and industry conditions as well as affordable housing," he said. "We are building 80,000 to 90,000 homes per year but actually need 500,000 new homes to meet demand. Some 70% of growth occurs in the coastal areas. We must focus on creating more quality jobs for our nearly 50 million state residents. Inland areas account for 25% of the total population but have fewer knowledge-worker jobs.”

He said about 53% of California’s philanthropic dollars go to the Bay Area, which only represents 20% of the state population.

'REGIONS-UP' PLANNING AND REVITALIZATION

Raman outlined three things needed to change this.

“We must strive to change the mental image of California and inspire statewide community thinking. Here is where facts matter. Our belief system must be based on facts,” Raman said. “We also need to support broad-based regions-up economic planning, policy formation and urban revitalization, especially among metropolitan planning organizations. Finally, the connective tissue (transportation infrastructure) of our state must be improved to better link population centers and reduce commute times.”

Raman called for listening sessions and engagement of people throughout the state to identify "crisis points."

That's where the Future of Work Commission comes in, he said. It investigated the lack of quality jobs that provide economic mobility. Raman observed that there are a lot of low-skill and high-skill jobs but far fewer middle-skill jobs, and quality-job numbers are down.

“One in three workers are at or below $15 an hour," Raman said, pointing to an example that 56% of jobs in Fresno are in this category. "At the same time, 1 in 5 low-wage California workers have college degrees, so the education process must also be fixed. A level playing field is needed. AB 5 is forcing employers with independent contractors as workers, or who outsourced work, to pay benefits to those that are really employees."

Newsom signed Assembly Bill 5 on Sept. 18, expanding employee benefits to contract workers. Labor law experts told the Business Journal previously that the new law could be enforced through fines and lawsuits against employers that improperly classify workers as contractors instead of employees.

In another illustration, Raman said white families on average have 10 times more wealth than black families.

IMPACT OF LATINO ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Marlene Orosco, lead research analyst with the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative, addressed the impact of Latino entrepreneurs in Sonoma County. She said some are found in one of three opportunity zones in Sonoma County. These are economically distressed communities where new investments, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential or deferred tax treatment. Those in Sonoma County are Santa Rosa's southwest Roseland community, other portions of the city and Boyes Hot Springs in Sonoma Valley.

She reported that 7% of the county’s Latino workforce is self-employed. Of those entrepreneurs, 54% had profits in the last 12 months (while 46% were at break-even), 5% are certified minority businesses and 98% grew up in low-income or lower-middle-income homes. Twenty-four percent had four-year college degrees, 72% were immigrants (compared with 15% for Latino wage workers), 42% were female (43% for wage workers) and 15% were millennials (42% for wage workers). The average business owner age was 47 years countywide, compared with 38 for Latino wage workers.

Orosco said the biggest challenges to growth for Sonoma County-based Latino entrepreneurs are finances, the economy and politics.

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