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Los Angeles Labor Market Strengths and Weaknesses

December 1, 2005 / By Brent Haydamack, Daniel Flaming and Patrick Burns
Underwriter: the City of Los Angels' LA Economy Project

The City of Los Angeles is challenged to help residents improve their skills and education, and to help employers expand their businesses and provide more sustaining jobs. There are opportunities for meeting this challenge both in the variety and number of industries in Los Angeles that provide promising jobs with good wages. Key findings about the city’s economy and the practical implications of these findings for helping city residents find good jobs are outlined below.

There is a rough northwest / southeast divide in the prosperity of LA’s resident workers. The majority of private sector jobs and many growing industries are located in the North Valley, South Valley, and West LA planning areas. Alternatively, many working poor residents are concentrated in East LA and South LA. These two planning areas also have high concentrations of limited English proficient workers and adults without a high school diploma. Barring other barriers to employment the best path to a sustaining job is a good education. Targeted job training and skill development will help workers to find better jobs and ascend career ladders. In addition, many of LA’s working residents will benefit from improved English language proficiency. This, coupled with the high numbers of adults without a high school diploma in East LA and South LA, suggests that the city should implement broad educational initiatives targeted at adult learners. Additionally, increased services are needed to help working poor residents to gain access to employment opportunities in areas of the city outside of their local neighborhood.

The majority of jobs in the city are located in areas furthest from the working poor, so it is important to:

  1. Foster the development of sustaining jobs in geographic areas of greatest need – namely in the East, South and Harbor planning areas.
  2. Connect workers with jobs. Workers may not be aware of opportunities in geographic areas that are unfamiliar to them. Thus they may need assistance in both identifying and accessing job opportunities outside of their immediate neighborhoods.

Although the distribution of industries across Los Angeles is uneven, there are growing industry targets that offer, well-paid jobs to qualified workers with average levels of education in every planning area of the city. Despite the regions ongoing decline of manufacturing jobs, there are still manufacturing industries in the North Valley and South Valley Planning areas that provide growing, living wage jobs. These industries should be targeted not only to help them expand and develop new jobs in the region but also to connect them to workers with the greatest need for good jobs.

A key to helping workers find and maintain good jobs in good industries is to ensure there are enough jobs available to employ the city’s labor force. Specifically, Tier 4 and 5 industries that offer entry-level jobs with promising career prospects are the best targets. Therefore it is important to:

  1. Provide training and placement assistance to current workers so they can gain access to better jobs in target industries.
  2. Use the skill and knowledge upgrade categories identified in this career ladder analysis to identify a core curriculum of competencies for workforce training programs.
  3. Train the Worksource center staff to use these tools to identify client-specific job ladders for gaining access to promising occupations.
  4. Implement strategies to accelerate job growth in the target industries.

 Section Headings:

  1. Introduction
  2. Constructing a Profile of the Los Angeles City Labor Market and Job Market
  3. Defining Poverty
  4. LA’s Resident Workers
  5. LA’s Resident Employers
  6. Government Employment Target Industries
  7. Target Industries
  8. Promising Occupations
  9. Conclusion
Featured image by Frank Stonehouse (aka Paco Paco), "A graphic of Obama's Inaugural Address, delivered on Jan 20, 2009" Uploaded to Flickr Creative Commons on January 20, 2009.

Featured image by Frank Stonehouse (aka Paco Paco), “A graphic of Obama’s Inaugural Address, delivered on Jan 20, 2009” Uploaded to Flickr Creative Commons on January 20, 2009.  Protected under the CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 DEED license.


Area of Work: Economy, People
Tags: Labor, Los Angeles