L.A.'s haves, have-nots

rand.jpgSame old same old: A higher poverty rate than the rest of the nation, a higher percentage of working poor than the rest of the nation, a graduation rate far lower than the rest of the nation, and a still-stunning divide between millionaires (250,000) and poor people (1.4 million). Those are some of the findings from a report by the United Way of Greater Los Angeles that looks at the social and economic climate between 1999 and 2009. The full report will be available on the United Way Web site later today. From the press release:

"Findings from this report show that problems once thought confined to the poor, like excessive rent burdens, falling wages and uncertain healthcare coverage, are seeping up the income distribution," said Manuel Pastor, professor of Geography and American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California. "It is of utmost importance to shore up the bottom in order to grow the middle class in Los Angeles, and we must take action now because shoring up the bottom will help secure the middle. It's not just about plugging the holes in our social safety net, as studies have shown that in regions with higher poverty, more segregation and wider income disparities cause slower overall growth. We can't leave people behind, or we'll continue to come up short in both our human capital and social consensus, both important to the County's prosperity."

The report does cite some improvement over the last 10 years in test scores and children's access to health care. Violent crime is also down (although it's down everywhere). As for the bad stuff, United Way CEO Elsie Buik says that "our institutional leaders are stepping forward and forging new approaches to these issues," which might be news to the shelters and soup kitchens around town that are struggling just to keep the lights on.

Photo: AP

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
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