Poverty, barriers to opportunity for Merced residents highlighted by “The Atlantic” Magazine

Most people who live in Merced are well aware that worker’s wages are much lower than the rest of California. And, generally speaking, so is the cost of living. However, for those who seek opportunity in other parts of the state and nation, the high cost of living, including rent, is a crippling barrier to prosperity. For low-income families and workers, it’s a chicken or the egg scenario. To move to bigger cities with higher wages, they have to be able to afford rent, but in Merced wages are so much lower that it prevents them from even being able to move. They essentially become trapped in Merced.

Today, The Atlantic Magazine, highlighted several Merced residents who are facing this challenge and cost disparity in the article titled, “The Barriers Stopping Poor People From Moving to Better Jobs”


The article’s opening paragraph sets the circumstance that so many Merced residents are familiar with:

“MERCED, California—Seccora Jaimes knows that she is not living in the land of opportunity. Her hometown has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, at 9.1 percent. Jaimes, 34, recently got laid off from the beauty school where she taught cosmetology, and hasn’t yet found another job. Her daughter, 17, wants the family to move to Los Angeles, so that she can attend one of the nation’s top police academies. Jaimes’s husband, who works in warehousing, would make much more money in Los Angeles, she told me. But one thing is stopping them: The cost of housing. “I don’t know if we could find a place out there that’s reasonable for us, that we could start any job and be okay,” she told me. Indeed, the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Merced, in California’s Central Valley, is $750. In Los Angeles, it’s $2,710.”

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