Explaining Southern California's economy

West Coast Ports: Contract talks continue...and so does the flow of goods

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Photo by Izabela Reimers via Flickr Creative Commons

Cargo continues to move through West Coast ports

It’s been almost three months since a labor contract that covers dockworkers at the Ports of Long Beach, Los Angeles and 27 others on the West Coast expired.  But negotiations on a new contract continue, and so does the flow goods. 

Neither the International Longshore and Warehouse Union nor the Pacific Maritime Association has raised the possibility of a strike or lock-out. About a month ago, both sides announced they’d reached a tentative agreement on one of the most contentious issues on the table — health benefits. But both sides have been quiet since then.

"This year’s negotiations, although they’re longer, have been quieter and seem to be much friendlier talks than…maybe ever," said Port of Long Beach spokesman Art Wong.

Wong says cargo volumes at his port slipped a little in August after surging from April through June,  when shippers were expediting imports ahead of the labor contract’s expiration. 


Asians have highest income in the US, study says

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Stanley Bailey, UCI associate professor of sociology, says a new study shows we need to look at racial inequality differently; skin color doesn’t always matter.

Whites are no longer the most well-off race in America, according to a new study on income inequality by researchers at Stanford University and the University of California, Irvine.

“Americans have long [considered] whites as the most privileged, highest income earners and blacks as the least,” said Stanley Bailey, UCI associate professor of sociology, in a statement.

But that's an outdated notion.

The study, published in the online journal Demographic Research, found Asians have the highest per capita household income in the U.S. Whites came in second, followed by multiracial Americans and African Americans.

Native Americans have the lowest average income. Latinos have the second-lowest, which was surprising to Bailey.

“We actually do control for immigrant status and for education with that Latino finding, and those two things do not significantly effect the gap we’re finding,” Bailey told KPCC.


Construction helps California lead nation in job creation in August

Job Seekers Look For Open Positions At Career Fair In San Francisco

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A job seeker fills out an application during a career fair at the Southeast Community Facility Commission on May 21, 2014 in San Francisco

California employers added 44,200 jobs in August, the largest gain of any state in the country. The state's unemployment rate stood still at 7.4 percent, compared to 6.1 percent nationwide.

"When the national numbers came out for August, and we saw a significant slowdown in job creation, we were a little bit concerned that we'd see the same thing happening here," said economist Kimberly Ritter-Martinez of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation. "But in California, we stayed pretty much on track, outpacing the nation in terms of job creation." 

The construction sector was a huge contributor to California's job growth in August, with a gain of 13,600 jobs.  The other sectors with large gains were Education/Health Services (+12,200), and Professional/Business Services (+10,600). 


Warner Brothers job cuts determined by financial target

We reported last week that layoffs were coming soon to Warner Brothers, but how many positions will be cut is still unknown.  

A spokesman for Warner Brothers Entertainment, Paul McGuire, told KPCC there's no exact number yet. "There is no headcount reduction target, but there is a substantial financial target," Maguire said. 

“This is a budget issue, not a head count issue,” Dee Dee Myers, Warner Brothers Vice President of Corporation Communications told Variety.  The trade publication reports that Warner Brothers is expected to eliminate as many as 1,000 positions worldwide - or about 10 percent of its workforce:

Senior managers are currently assessing their businesses to come up with ways to trim overhead. Only at the end of that process will an exact reduction figure be known. It could be somewhat lower than the current numbers being speculated, but cuts are expected to be substantial.  


Los Angeles is one of the poorest big cities in the nation, new Census numbers show

Los Angeles To Allow Homeless To Sleep On Sidewalks

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Last year was the second straight year the poverty rate stayed flat after four years of going up in the United States.

Income in greater Los Angeles is rising – slightly - according to new American Community Survey numbers released Thursday from the Census Bureau, but greater L.A. still ranks as one of the poorest major metropolitan areas in the nation.

The L.A. area (defined as L.A., Long Beach and Anaheim) had a median household income of $58,869 last year, which is $804 more than the year before, but still $1540 under the 2010 level, during the first full year after the recession.

"These numbers paint a bleak picture for California,” said Marybeth Mattingly, a researcher at Stanford University’s Center on Poverty and Inequality.

Mattingly is particularly troubled by the child poverty rate, which was 25.3 percent in 2013, up from 22.6 percent in 2010.

“In the West, Hispanics have the highest poverty with nearly one in three Hispanic kids poor, and it's even a little higher for blacks” she said.