CBS, March 21, 2007
Los Angeles County residents tend to be poorer, less well educated and less prepared for the job market than other Californians, according to a report released Wednesday by the United Way of Greater Los Angeles.
The “Quality of Life in Los Angeles Index” found the Southland is behind the rest of the state in education, economic status, health and public safety. On a 10-point scale, Los Angeles County rates a 7.32, according to the report.
“It’s not just about economics. It’s about the economic and social factors that can threaten the well being of all living and working in this region.”
The United Way’s report found only 30 percent of the region’s third-graders can read at or above the national average, according to the California Achievement Test.
Poor educational achievement and a decline in the region’s manufacturing sector have led to rapid growth in the low-wage service economy, according to the report.
In Los Angeles County, homeownership is at 49 percent, well behind that of other Californians at 58 percent and the rest of the country at 67 percent.
A family must have an income of more than $100,000 to afford a median priced house in Los Angeles County. But about half of the region’s families have an average income of $53,431.
High housing costs also affect renters. In Los Angeles County, 53 percent of renters spend more than a third of their income to pay for an apartment or house.
The rate of substance abuse treatment has increased in Los Angeles County from 508 visits per every 100,000 people in 2000 to 705 in 2005.
Methamphetamine use accounts for roughly 30 percent of all those seeking treatment, up from about 10 percent in 2000.
[Editor’s Note: The report “ Quality Of Life In Los Angeles Index—State Of The County Report 2007” and its Summary Report can be downloaded here.
The Summary Report can be read on-line here.
The Full Report can be read on-line here.]
For immediate release—March 21, 2007
Media Contact: Taulene Ayoub, (213) 630-2190, [email protected]
LOS ANGELES COUNTY RECEIVES A 7.32 OUT OF 10 IN UNITED WAY’S FIRST EVER ‘QUALITY OF LIFE IN LOS ANGELES INDEX’ STATE OF THE COUNTY REPORT 2007
County Below State in Every Area, Weakened by Declines in Economic Status and Health Conditions
Improvements Seen in Public Safety and Education
LOS ANGELES, March 21, 2007—United Way of Greater Los Angeles today announced its State of the County ‘Quality of Life in Los Angeles’ study and index. To be updated annually, the composite index provides civic, business and community leaders with a tool for measuring how Los Angeles is doing over time in four key areas: Education; Economic Status; Health; and Public Safety, and consistently tracks how Los Angeles is faring in meeting the needs of its residents. The study found that, while Los Angeles County is a safer region than it was five years ago, we are still unhealthy, poor and have an under-educated and under-skilled workforce.
The index shows that Los Angeles County is currently at 7.32 on a 10-point scale, while the state of California is 8.08 for the overall quality of life of its residents. Just as the Dow-Jones Index produces a single figure to track conditions in the stock market, the Quality of Life Index provides an objective measure for tracking how Los Angeles County is doing in areas of education, economics, health and public safety. The Index measures indicators for Los Angeles County from the past five years against a set of benchmarks, and Los Angeles County is around 70 percent of the benchmarks of a good quality of life. Although a region of great wealth and roughly one-third of the population of California, Los Angeles County is behind the state in every part of the Index.
“While the Dow Jones index provides a figure by which to measure the stock market, the Quality of Life index measures factors that affect our entire community. It’s not just about economics, it’s about both the economic and social factors that can threaten the well being of all living and working in this region,” said Elise Buik, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Los Angeles. “What people may not realize is how closely these factors are interrelated: businesses are not going to come to or stay in Los Angeles if their employees can’t afford housing. Furthermore, breakdowns in our healthcare or educational systems directly impact the strength of our workforce and overall economy.”
The Qualify of Life study identified the following significant risk areas:
* Our future workforce is not being adequately prepared for the jobs of the 21st century. The County has a large population of Baby Boomers on the brink of retirement, and their jobs will be filled with an under-developed, under-educated workforce
* Limited income growth is not keeping pace with inflation and the high cost of living: More than 25 percent of the County residents live in a poor household (defined as 150 percent of the federal poverty line, e.g., around $30,000 for a family of four)
* Conditions for nearly all of the indicators are worse for low-income and minority persons, especially Latinos and African Americans, who together make up 56 percent of residents and 68 percent of children in the county
* Lack of access to affordable health care and rising rates of obesity and associated diseases threaten both the public and financial health of residents and the local economy: An estimated 170,000 children and 1.4 million adults do not have health insurance
* The majority of public high school students are below basic achievement levels needed to graduate prepared for college and the workforce: Only 12 percent of 9th graders are proficient in Algebra; 30 percent of 3rd graders are at the national average in reading
Areas of progress include:
* Policy decisions in the educational, health, and public safety arenas have played significant roles in improving indicators
* Substantial improvement has been made over the past five years in indicators, such as Early Reading Level, Teacher Credentials, School Overcrowding, Child Health Insurance, Air Quality Index, Immunization and Violent Crime.
* The rate of violent crimes—homicide, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault—is at its lowest level in the past decade
* The property crime rate in Los Angeles County is six percent lower than that of California, which saw a 16 percent increase in its property crime rate from 2000 to 2005
“As a business leader, I commend United Way for their bold innovations and leadership with their social reporting, such as the Latino Scorecard and State of Women in Los Angeles County,” said Dominic Ng, chairman, president and CEO of East West Bank. “We have a great opportunity with our young population to build a solid economic foundation for the 21st century, but we must use the Quality of Life Index as a guide to ensure Los Angeles County becomes a thriving, competitive home to a skilled workforce and flourishing businesses.”
“We cannot create change alone. The report shows what United Way as an organization, what you as an individual and what we as a community can do to improve the quality of life for all. I would like to thank Dominic Ng for joining our efforts and funding the research and publication of the study,” continued Buik. “Because of his personal, focused support, we now have a measurable way to track what the quality of life is for Los Angeles residents and what we need to do to improve it.”
The Quality of Life Index follows United Way’s recently announced 10-year Action Plan, which addresses issues facing Los Angeles County and provides the tools necessary to move more people out of poverty. The new Action Plan will sharpen the focus on three vital areas identified as key to reducing poverty: meeting basic needs like food, shelter and health care; improving the educational achievement of our youth; and helping families with the opportunities and skills they need to become financially stable.
About United Way of Greater Los Angeles
United Way of Greater Los Angeles is a nonprofit organization that creates pathways out of poverty by focusing on meeting basic needs, improving educational achievement and increasing financial stability for the most vulnerable in our community. Through its research work, United Way identifies the issues and works in partnership with community leaders and supporters to solve them by funding targeted programs and advocating for change. For more information, visit www.unitedwayla.org.