Income & Employment

STATUS: Hinders human development

How do we know what’s working?

1 employment & unemployment rates, 2 household income, 3 poverty rates and, 4 family supportive wages.

Income expands “people’s consumption possibilities, providing them with the resources to satisfy their needs.”101 By extension, wealth protects us from “unexpected shocks that could lead to poverty and destitution.”102 An Angeleno with adequate income is more likely to be in better health, live in a safe neighborhood, and report higher life satisfaction.103 The availability of well-paying jobs allows individuals to fulfill their “ambitions, to develop skills and abilities, to feel useful in society and to build self-esteem.”104 Collectively, high employment levels create societies that are “richer, more politically stable and healthier.”105 For many Angelenos, well-paying jobs are elusive. Too many families are struggling to get by on too little income.

On a daily basis, over one million Los Angeles County residents confront hunger or food insecurity, meaning they go without enough food to
lead an active and healthy life.

The Current State of Income & Employment:


LA County’s unemployment rate topped the national and state figures, with a rate of 12.2%.90

Unemployment rates for African American and Latinos are the highest among any ethnic group.91


The unemployment rate for African Americans is 21%.91


The unemployment rate for Latinos is 14%.91

Of the 265 neighborhoods in Los Angeles County, Bel Air has the highest median income at $207,938 and Downtown has the lowest median income at $15,003.95


of households do not earn enough to cover basic expenses.96

The Los Angeles poverty rate of 18% (97) is higher than the nation (15%) (98) and the state (16%).99

“We need to raise up the bottom, we need to move people into jobs that pay enough to live a decent life and to have healthcare.”

—Madeline Janis, Co-Founder & National Policy Director, Los Angeles Alliance for a Sustainable Economy


Today, Los Angeles ranks as the third best city in the world for startups. Los Angeles-based incubators are fostering the next generation of entrepreneurs." (Source)


Of large metropolitan areas in the U.S., Los Angeles ranks third (behind New York and Miami) for income inequality.

Income disparity is exacerbated by the fact that LA is an expensive place to live.

How will we measure up in 2050?

INCOME AND EMPLOYMENT in 2050 also receives our lowest ranking. Based, in part, on the region’s poor education system and on the region’s lack of a coherent economic development strategy aimed at creating good-paying jobs in growth sectors, we don’t foresee the income and employment situation getting much better. Income and wealth in the region is being concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. It’s a trend that’s been unfolding nationwide for decades; at the moment, there isn’t any clear policy at the federal, state, or local levels to reverse that trend. Furthermore, the area’s demographic make-up (with a large share of the population being Latino and African American) implies that the region will persistently suffer from elevated rates of unemployment. Based on these factors, the Los Angeles of 2050 will continue to be a region of haves and have-nots.

What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding income & employment? Share it with us in the comments or use the hash tag #LA2050.