Wednesday, June 12, 2024

In Los Angeles, Hundreds Turn Out in Hopes of Landing Job

Last week hundreds of young and middle aged Los Angeles residents, primarily blacks and Latinos, lined the street outside of an employment office vying for more than 600 jobs. In the second largest U.S. city, the unemployment rate is nearly fourteen percent. So when the new JW Marriot and Ritz Carlton hotels in downtown announced the availability of so many jobs, which pay $14+ an hour and provide free healthcare, there were plenty of eager applicants.

Although the City of Angels has received $44 million in federal stimulus package funds aimed at creating jobs, these new positions have nothing to do with President Obama’s stimulus plan. Rather, this bit of job creation is thanks to years of work by City Hall to draw new investments and ensure jobs are awarded to locals.

Even as the U.S. economy shows progress, this city of 4 million is struggling to get out from under its financial hardships and joblessness.

“This could be a two-year, jobless recovery,” Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Larry Frank told Reuters.

Torian Willis is a 24 year old unemployed construction worker; he has been unemployed for a year and hopes to get a job in the hotels’ maintenance or housekeeping departments.

“The government has a lot of stuff to worry about right now, we have a lot of foreign issues to take care of, so every man has to take care of himself,” Willis said.

The growing unemployment rate is burning domestic issue. President Obama has planned a jobs forum in December but made it clear that there will not be a second stimulus package to create more jobs.

Deputy Mayor Frank explained that the city’s unemployment rate as it currently stands is probably this highest since the Great Depression.

While the city leaders are concerned about the short term as well, it appears that they are taking a long-term view of job creation and focusing on construction, logistics, healthcare, hospitality and “green” jobs for the future. Another obstacle the city faces in job creation is lack of necessary training. Los Angeles, as a whole, suffers from a severe “skills gap” due to the fact that 800,000 people live below the poverty line and as many as 40 percent read below an eight-grade level.

Fifty percent of the 600 hotel jobs are reserved for people who live within 3 miles of the downtown entertainment complex known as L.A. Live, but local residents may end up with only 100 or so due to lack of qualifications.

Local labor activist Paulina Gonzalez said that the presence of so many good jobs was a cause for celebration, even if locals don’t get the majority of them.

“It is a sign that we can continue to do this kind of economic development in the city and work together to make sure that jobs are created,” said Gonzalez, executive director of an organization that pushes for local-hire requirements.