California has always been perceived as a land of an American dream. Not only because Hollywood made the numerous people world famous, rich and successful. The whole state in the southwest of the United States is a dreamland. That is probably why the aspirations are so high, when one thinks of Los Angeles. Despite numerous flattering allusions provided by show business, LA is quite a problematic place to live.
We will not discuss highly controversial topics like drug use or sexual liberties – these are police concerns. The topic I would like to concentrate on is the problem of unemployment in the county.
Unemployment is a vulnerable matter that is of great concern for both the government and the citizens. The only difference is the way they percept the problem, with the former caring for the national results and the latter – for their own prosperity. California and especially Los Angeles have a very special concern about the labor force, because its population’s peace greatly depends on the level of unemployment. No matter how strange this might sound, it is true – the situation with the labor force determines the social stability to a great extent.
In fact, the problem of unemployment in Los Angeles and in California in general roots back deep
into the XX century, with the latest hottest peak taking place in 1990s. The unemployment rate is
the proportion of the labour force that is unemployed (not working but actively seeking
LA is a large, urbanized region and it has spatially concentrated poverty around the place for many years now, because the inhabitants, especially those who occupy poor neighborhoods, are suffering from the unequal geographic distribution jobs and businesses. The unfavorable combination of numerous factors like high poverty, high unemployment and low business and job opportunities have created the conditions for the region to become socially problematic. Negative effect of increasing poverty and unemployment caused violent uprisings in 1992 (and along the whole decade) in Los Angeles.
According to the statistical data, the almost continuous growth of unemployment level began in December 1989 (5.1%) up to over 10% in 1992 to 1994. Only in August 1994 did the percentage of unemployment drop below 9%. But this was the average statistics to the county. In fact the unemployment level was much more clustered in L.A. in the 1990s. The southeast part of South Central Los Angeles – zip codes 90002 and 90059 – had the unemployment rates of greater than 18% – the worst result in the region. No wonder the situation in society grew dark and went out of control. The situation has been quite unstable during almost the whole decade, but as statistic claims, the things have changed for the better with the beginning of the new millennium. It has varied in 2000-2004 from 4.6% to 8% max (in July 2003). However, the improvement is subject to serious debate. The unemployment situation in the LA zone has historically been problematic. It is widely known and commonly accepted that the area of LA and California usually have higher indices of unemployment than the index of the whole country. It is explained by the size of the county and its heavily industrialized and ever-changing mode.
Recent statistical data shows that the situation improved a great deal: the level of unemployment in Los Angeles City in 2006 has been gradually decreasing from 6.1 (in January 2006) to 5.4 (in September 2006).
The last data on the level of unemployment in Los Angeles County refers to September 2006, when, again, the results have been positive. The unemployment dropped to 4.8 percent in September, finally stopping the stagnant labour market conditions that continued for four months.
It is notable that the level of unemployment rates in Los Angeles is only a bit over the nation’s rate of 4.6 percent. A rate so close to that of the state and nation means that the Los Angeles County has relatively healthy economy nowadays, which is a good sign.
Total non-farm employment rose in September by 27,300 August 2006. The schools had shown the highest results and leisure and hospitality sector had the largest decline that continued for months.
L.A. County (Los Angeles County is the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale Metropolitan Division) has an official amount of workforce a little over 4 million people, while the US have officially recognized the number of workforce countrywide to be 151,799 in September 2006.
The Los Angeles area has great potential to the development of new workplaces and businesses. It is also quite vulnerable to the changes in economic situation. It the economy experiences troubles or stagnation, the society immediately reacts in different forms of aggressive protest, especially such a greatly polarized society as the Los Angeles neighborhoods that experience different levels of income and job involvement.
I believe that several steps have to be taken to improve and preserve current situation in the region: first of all, the government should find a way to smooth the differences that aggravate the contradictions between different social levels of the county. Moreover, precautious steps should be taken to preserve the place from possible brutal riots in the future. Full support should be provided to those who are able and have a wish to work. One should not be deprived of the right to work. It is a sort of social responsibility we all have for each other. Employed people are less likely to support any social upheavals and tend to have less psychological problems and pernicious habits. Unemployment is the indicator of the society’s health and overall well-being.
Bibliography: EDD, Labor Market Information Division Press release. California and Los Angeles County Model and United States CPS Labor Data Benchmark. October 20, 2006.
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