Los Angeles County will have an estimated 354,000 fewer living wage jobs in 2021 and greater race-based economic inequities compared to the pre-pandemic economy, according to a report released this week by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LACEDC).
The 50-page study commissioned by the Department of Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services lays out a pathway for economic recovery over the next five years and makes the case that more than 730,000 living wage jobs need to be created for the entire county workforce to enjoy a satisfactory standard of living.
Using the Massachusetts Institute of Technology definition of a living wage as the minimum amount of income necessary for a family’s basic needs, the LACEDC report calculates a living hourly wage for a Los Angeles County adult with no children at $14.83.
According to the report, there were about 4.16 million living wage jobs countywide in 2019 employing about 85 percent of workers. Many of those who worked for less were in hospitality, food services, retail and arts and entertainment jobs.
The researchers recommended strategies to improve equity, retrain workers for well-paying industries, bolster capital and support services for small businesses and close education and access gaps that they say limit prosperity and growth.
“This pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on women, people of color and households with lower incomes,” Supervisor Hilda Solis said. “As a former U.S. Secretary of Labor who worked to bring this nation out of the depths of the Great Recession, I know that the County of Los Angeles’ response to a post-COVID economy must be infused with equity and targeted to help those who are hurting the most.”
Other findings of the report include:
— Of the 716,000 L.A. County jobs lost in March and April 2020, only 28.7 percent or 213,000 of those positions had returned by the end of September;
— Local unemployment was largely driven by layoffs in industries not deemed essential, especially those employing lower skilled workers, such as hospitality, retail and personal care;
— Of those filing for unemployment insurance in California, 65.3 percent were people of color, 56.9 percent had a high school education or less, and women filed for unemployment at a rate 6.4 percent higher than men;
— The racial wealth gap widened: in California, 37.6 percent of Black workers, 26.3 percent of Hispanic workers and 22 percent of White workers filed for unemployment during the pandemic;