Dot-Com Bubble Burst Causes Some Underemployed Bay Area Residents To Skip Medical Care
About one-fifth of Bay area residents have skipped or postponed medical care because it is too costly, according to a survey released Sunday by the San Jose Mercury News and Kaiser Family Foundation (Schwanhausser , San Jose Mercury News, 12/18).
The survey involved more than 1,700 residents in the Bay Area and was conducted between Aug. 2 and Sept. 11. Researchers collected data on the number of part-time workers who want to work full time and full-time workers who hold jobs that pay significantly less or require significantly fewer skills, less experience or lower education levels than their previous jobs (Wong, San Jose Mercury News, 12/19).
The survey also examines the "shifting patterns of prosperity and hardship five years after the implosion" of the dot-com boom -- "one of the biggest economic booms in urban history," according to the Mercury News (Schwanhausser , San Jose Mercury News, 12/18).
The survey finds that:
- 41% of underemployed residents said they forgo or postpone medical care because of cost;
- 33% of underemployed residents live in households where the total family income before taxes was $30,000 or less in 2004;
- 20% of the underemployed said they would be able to survive one week before experiencing serious financial hardship if they lost their jobs (Wong, San Jose Mercury News, 12/19);
- Workers ages 24 to 40 years old are more likely to go without health insurance (Schwanhausser , San Jose Mercury News, 12/18);
- 25% of workers said the scope of health care benefits would cause them to choose one job over another if both offered the same pay;
- 20% of residents said their finances have declined over the past five years, but 54% of residents believe their household incomes will improve by 2010; and
- Nearly 60% of residents believe the Bay area will experience another "dot-com size economic boom," the Mercury News reports (Schwanhausser , San Jose Mercury News, 12/18).
Unless leaders in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., address "the fraying education system, the lack of effective retaining for laid-off workers, the faltering health care system, the government's listless commitment to investing in research and infrastructure [and] the dearth of affordable housing, middle-class life could become a faded memory for a growing number of valley families," a Mercury News editorial states (San Jose Mercury News, 12/19).
The survey is available online.