California’s Diverse Workforce is Fundamental to State’s Success and Vibrancy
As we celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 – October 15, the Powering California Network team wants to promote the importance of inspiring and cultivating the next generation of leaders who reflect California’s diversity. Latinos are the largest ethnic group in the Golden State, with nearly 40% of all residents here of Hispanic origin. Knowing that the population will continue to grow over the next generations, it is in our collective best interest to champion a diverse workforce especially since the economic success and future of California and our Hispanic population are deeply intertwined.
As the nation’s largest state, California has a vast workforce ranging from the glittering lights of Hollywood to high-tech jobs, real estate developers and retail. There are also many valuable – yet overlooked – blue-collar jobs in industries like construction and the oil and natural gas industry that provide accessible good-paying industrial jobs which can serve as a path to the middle class for our diverse communities.
These opportunities are vital as too many Californians are falling behind, and among them, many Latinos. As noted by the California Latino Economic Institute, “improved overall economic conditions in the traditional job engines of the state, the Bay Area and urban Southern California, have failed to lift Latino workers and families out of poverty.” And truly, poverty hits Latino communities the hardest. In 2019, Stanford’s Center on Poverty and Inequality and the Public Policy Institute of California reported that nearly 24% of Latinos in California lived in poverty in 2017 and remain disproportionately poor – making up 52% of poor Californians but almost 40% of all Californians.
Supporting high-paying jobs for all Californians – not just the most highly educated and not just in coastal cities – is central to ensuring the fundamental right for all residents to have the opportunity for upward economic mobility. The traditional energy sector is a key player in delivering on this promise.
The oil and natural gas industry is one of California’s major employers and a leading economic driver, responsible for 365,970 jobs in 2017 (77,550 in Los Angeles County alone) and more than $152.3 billion in direct economic activity, according to Oil and Gas in California, a 2019 report by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation based on 2017 data. Here are some other facts you may not know:
- One third of oil and gas industry workers have high school credentials or less, yet these traditional energy jobs provide good-paying salaries, with average wages of over $80,000.
- When compared to the high-tech industry or environmental organizations, the oil and natural gas industry is comprised of a workforce that is more ethnically diverse – with 28% Latino, 11% Asian, and 6% Black employees – far greater than these other sectors.
We should be working together to expand careers that provide a solid path to financial security for working families that do not have a four-year degree. And we should be transparent about the unintended consequences of policies that undermine those who rely on industrial jobs to earn an honest living, a route that fewer and fewer industries in California are able to afford. If blue-collar jobs are unwelcome, where should working families go for their path to the middle-class and the American Dream?
California Resources Corporation (CRC), the largest California-based oil and natural gas producer, and its industry and union counterparts take great pride in employing a workforce that reflects the state’s cultural diversity while providing high-quality and good-paying jobs. Through its “I am a California Resource” campaign, CRC showcases their employees to promote the benefits of working in the oil and natural gas industry and highlight how working Californians are fundamental to the success and vibrancy of California’s future.
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month and the diverse workforce that helps power the Golden State, the Powering California Network and CRC commend the many contributions of our Hispanic employees, contractors, royalty owners, community partners, businesses, and all residents who work every day to provide access to the safe, reliable and affordable resources we all need to sustainably live a good quality of life. We are proud to support expanding access to the American Dream for all – where upward economic mobility is seen as a right, parents can expect their children to earn more than they do, and where people can remain living in California through every life stage because they can afford to stay here.