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Economic Structure Drives Working Poverty in Los Angeles Region

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Aerial photo of Rte 10 & 5 interchange, Los Angeles, CA.

As the nation's second largest metropolitan region (second only to New York/New Jersey/Long Island), greater Los Angeles has an economic and industrial base of technology, aerospace, manufacturing, entertainment and services as complex and diverse as its population.

Credit: Geoffrey DeVerteuil

 

Aerial photo of affluent suburbs in Southern California.

The geographic distribution of working poverty, which drives overall poverty concentration patterns, is intimately linked to the region's economic structure and can eventually impose costs on wealthier suburbs. The technology boom in Southern California has driven increases in high-wage professional, technology and service jobs, and low-wage domestic service jobs in affluent suburbs. Simultaneously, in the cities, the manufacturing sector has shifted from well-paying, unionized jobs to low-wage, non-union jobs without benefits.

Credit: Michael Dear

 

Mural on health clinic wall in central Los Angeles.

High concentrations of working poverty and overcrowding can increase the cost of providing human services, low-cost housing, education, public transportation and fire and police protection. Local municipalities grapple with the fiscal challenges of subsidizing working poverty.

Credit: Michael Dear

 

Map depicting the percent of the employed labor force in poverty in the Los Angeles region

Greater Los Angeles is home to an economically polarized and culturally diverse population of more than 16 million. Of that total, some 4.5 to 5 million are living in poverty, and approximately 3.5 million are experiencing working poverty.

Credit: Pascale Joassart-Marcelli


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Map showing the ratio of lower-skill jobs to lower-skilled workers in Greater Los Angeles.

Local governments in poor communities often attempt to fund the growing costs of working poverty by luring new businesses to create local jobs and increase income. This strategy can reduce necessary services to residents while creating more low-paying jobs and perpetuating the cycle of working poverty.

Credit: Pascale Joassart-Marcelli


Download the high-resolution JPG version of the image. (376 KB)

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