Explaining Southern California's economy

FAA decision paves way for drone use in US films; allows 6 production companies to use drones in filming


Photo by Vince LoPresti via Flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration will allow six production companies to fly drones for the purpose of shooting films, television shows or other video products.

The decision, announced Thursday by Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, is the first step to allowing the film and television industry to use drones — or "unmanned aircraft systems" in the National Airspace System. 

"There has been a lot of interest around this technology lately, and I have determined that using unmanned aircraft for this purpose does not pose a risk to national airspace users," Secretary Foxx said on a conference call.

"We're introducing unmanned aircraft into America's airspace incrementally and with the interest of safety first," said FAA administrator Huerta."This process opens up a whole new avenue for companies and organizations wishing to safely integrate unmanned aircraft into their business." 


InterContinental will operate new Wilshire Grand Hotel in downtown Los Angeles

Lobby Bar of Wilshire grand rendering

AC Martin/Wilshire Grand Project

Rendering of a the lobby bar at the future Wilshire Grand hotel in downtown Los Angeles

WG SKY LOBBY rendering

AC Martin/Wilshire Grand Project

A rendering of the "sky lobby" at the future Wilshire Grand hotel. It will be located on the 70th floor of the building.

Future Wilshire Grand entrance

AC Martin/Wilshire Grand Project

A rendering of the front of the future Wilshire Grand Hotel

World record for largest concrete pour in history

Alice Walton/KPCC

Workers at the site of the future Wilshire Grand tower set a world record for largest concrete pour in history on Sunday, Feb. 16.

Developers of the Wilshire Grand project in downtown Los Angeles announced Tuesday that InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) will operate the 900-room hotel included in the $1.1 billion project. 

"Deconstruction" of the old historic Wilshire Grand Hotel began nearly two years ago under the watch of new owners Korean Air and Hanjin Group. Earlier this year, more than 200 trucks poured the concrete foundation of what will become technically the tallest building in the western United States.  In addition to the hotel, it will include 400,000 square feet of office space. 

The hotel - set to open in 2017 - will have a "sky lobby" located on the 70th floor of the building. At 900 rooms, it will become the largest InterContinental hotel in the Americas region.  

"The InterContinental brand is well-respected by world travelers and embodies the luxury experience we intend to provide at the Wilshire Grand," said Heather Cho, vice president of Hanjin International in a statement. "IHG recognized the potential of this significant project and that was important in our decision." 


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

containers maersk ship port of los angeles long beach san pedro

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

digitalmoneyworld/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

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

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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).