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L.A.'s Black Population Is Facing A 'Jobs Crisis,' Says UCLA Report

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Black residents are leaving Los Angeles, according to the L.A. Times. The numbers bolster the claim: while the county added 2.5 million residents from 1980 to 2014, it also lost 122,032 black residents.

What's behind the exodus? It may have to do with a "jobs crisis" that has mired the black community in Los Angeles, says a report written by both the UCLA Labor Center and the Los Angeles Black Worker Center.

According to the study:

Manufacturing industries that employed a large share of Black workers moved offshore, depleting the number of stable and available union jobs. Those that remained declined in quality, and as Black employment cratered, these communities—especially their men—were increasingly criminalized and ensnared in California’s historic expansion of incarceration. Despite the enactment of antidiscrimination laws, racist hiring practices demonstrably continue to limit Black employment. As a result of widening inequality, rising housing costs, and a glaring lack of economic opportunities, Los Angeles is in the throes of a Black jobs crisis.
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The numbers paint a dire situation, illuminating a reality in which L.A.'s black workers have had a difficult time finding their way back into the work force after the 2008 financial crisis. As noted in the study, "job losses in the Black community during the recession were nearly double those of white workers." From 2010 to 2014, an average of 17% of black workers in the county remain unemployed, compared to 9% for white workers. A higher degree narrowed the divide, but didn't close it completely. Among workers with a bachelor's degree or higher, an average of 9% of black workers were unemployed from 2010 to 2014, compared to the average of 7% for white workers

These figures are dispiriting, especially when you consider the fact that the trend of obtaining higher degrees has actually been on the upswing for the black community. The number of those with a bachelor’s degree or higher has doubled since 1980. Also, the number of those with less than a high school degree has shrunk by one-third to 10%.

What's also troubling is that, among black employees, representation at higher levels are relatively low. From 2010 to 2014, 15% of white workers held some sort of managerial position in the county, compared to 8% of black workers. Inversely, 38% of black workers worked in "frontline" positions (entry-level jobs with lower pay) during that period, while 28% of white workers held those positions.

Not surprisingly, wage inequality also comes to the forefront. From 2010 to 2014, a black full-time worker earned an average of $21.27 per hour in the county, while white workers earned an average of $28.61. The issues are also indicative of a national problem: "The disparity is so stark that Black families whose household head earned a graduate or professional degree have, on average, less wealth than white families with a head who only completed some college but did not attain a four-year degree," according to the report.

As for what we can do to mitigate and/or solve the problems, the researchers offered a slew of recommendations. These include setting benchmarks for diverse hiring, fighting budget cuts to programs and services that help maintain equitable employment of black workers, amending state law to allow local agencies to address employment discrimination, and creating worksite monitoring programs that check for the presence of discrimination.