Blacks in South L.A. Have a Bleaker Jobs Picture Than in 1992

Ricardo Lopez, Los Angeles Times, April 28, 2012

Two decades after the L.A. riots brought pledges of help to rebuild South Los Angeles, the area is worse off in many ways than it was in 1992.

Median income, when adjusted for inflation, is lower. Many middle-class blacks have fled in search of safer neighborhoods and better schools.

And the unemployment rate, which was bad at the time of the riots, has reached even more dire levels. In two areas of South Los Angeles—Florence Graham and Westmont—unemployment is almost 24%. Back in 1992, it was 21% in Florence Graham and 17% in Westmont.


There have been training and other job programs—both privately and government-funded—in the roughly 51-square-mile area in the last two decades. A post-riots report said the area needed an investment of about $6 billion and the creation of 75,000 to 94,000 jobs.

The federal and state governments spent as much as $768 million, according to a 1994 estimate, but the main aim of Rebuild L.A.—the group leading the revitalization effort—was to steer the private sector to create jobs in the area.


Most of the private-sector programs, however, had little effect.

“There are many things the private sector does well, but investment in depressed areas is not often one of them,” said Chris Tilly, director of the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. “The nature of private-sector investors is to look where the payoff is. If you’ve got large swaths of the city where there are bad schools, poor people and crime, that’s not where private investment will go.”

During the 1970s and ‘80s, many South Los Angeles residents were able to make a middle-class living working in manufacturing and aerospace. But those jobs disappeared when those employers closed up shop, resulting in mass layoffs.


The situation “is worse today,” said the Rev. Richard Byrd of Krst Unity Center of Afrakan Spiritual Science, near Western and Florence avenues. “From the standpoint of where we ought to be today, we’ve failed to make any progress.”

At the time of the riots, South L.A. was almost 50% African American. Many with the means to leave have since moved to areas such as the Inland Empire and Lancaster and Palmdale in the Antelope Valley.

Now South Los Angeles is 30% African American, according to U.S. Census data, and black-owned businesses that once had a stronghold in the area have declined steadily.

Meanwhile, Latinos attracted by affordable housing have settled in the area and now make up about 64% of the population. Latino-owned businesses have cropped up along the main corridors. Mexican grocery stores are thriving. Immigrants flock to money-wiring outlets to send funds to relatives in Mexico and Central America. Spanish has become the language most commonly heard in the streets of South Los Angeles.

The demographic shift has made it even more difficult for African Americans to find good jobs, said Vernon M. Briggs Jr., a Cornell University labor economist who has studied the effect of immigration on blacks for more than three decades.


It’s unlikely that the area will see much improvement any time soon, UCLA’s Tilly said.

What’s lacking, he said, is “muscular public investment” in education. And, he said, the economic recovery needs to get stronger.

“Those folks are most likely to advance when there’s strong economic growth and a strong public-sector investment,” he said. {snip}

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  • loyalwhitebriton

    muscular public investment…
    strong public sector investment…

    In other words, even more subsidisation of US blacks and hispanics by white American taxpayers.
    I mean, American blacks and hispanics have been under subsidised for decades because of white priviledge, haven’t they?

  • ed91

    reap what you sow————-or

    Cosechas lo que siembras for the spanish speaking

    • ed91

       Believe me, I can learn spanish a hell of a lot quicker than they will learn english.

      Créanme, puedo aprender español un infierno de mucho más rápido que aprenderán inglés.

  • Southern__Hoosier

    I heard a story on NPR about Black unemployment in LA.  They interviewed Blacks that use to make $12-$15 /hr working as janitors. Now there jobs were being done by illegals that worked for less than half that. Blacks need to realize that Comrade Obama and the Democrats have sold them down the river for the Hispanic vote. 

    • IstvanIN

      Thomas Slowell wrote an article about the Chicago Janitor’s Union and how black men, 50 years ago, could support a family.  Then the big business interests figured they could break the Unions with Latin American immigration. 

      Sadly, our government and business leaders have sold both white and black America down the oilet for short term profits.

  • Up to my neck in CA

    “There are many things the private sector does well, but investment in depressed areas is not often one of them,”

    By depressed area do you mean a money pit for the gimme dats crowd? I’ll invest my companies hard earned money where ever I damn well please to.

  • Seriously only the bottom of the barrel, dregs of black society (and THAT is saying something) reside in LA anymore.  The others  have all been removed or forced out by the Mexican Cleaning services.  The Blacks in LA face such horrible job prospects because they are most definitely on the wrong side of the average 85 IQ for african americans and because the Mexicans and other ethnic groups REFUSE to hire them!  It must be nice to be a minority business owner with no Circus mandates to hire blacks.

    • Jay1

      You are SO right.  Non-black minorities DO NOT hire blacks at all.  Where I live, the Asians hire only Asians, except for the most menial tasks which go to illegal latinos.  The Arabs only employ latinos.  The Indo-Pak crowd only hires their relatives.  LAtino owned businesses NEVER have any black employes either.

      It boggles my mind that non-black minorities can get away with NOT hiring blacks at all, while whites are hauled into court if there is even a hint that the one black candidate wasn’t hired before the 100 white guys who applied.  Why will black people not realize that immigration is destroying them!

      • haroldcrews

        Here Asians will hire whites but I suspect that it is because there aren’t many Asians relatively speaking.

  • B

    What is lacking is an educated motivated work force that isn’t looking to steal anything not nailed down.

  • No

    Private business in Los Angeles, US found the same thing private business found in Kinshasa, Congo:  You can’t train negroes to do anything beyond the simplest of tasks.  Things an eight-year old white child takes for granted are beyond the comprehension of the average oompa-loompa.  Things like personal hygiene, for example . . . or grooming . . . or pronounciation . . . or any form of math beyond what you can do with your fingers . . .

    The negro has gone up the evolutionary tree as far as he’s ever going to climb . . . which means his big feet are still on the ground.  If the white man is the Skittles, the negro is the wrapper the Skittles came in.

    They should have gone extinct long ago and may still.  But as long as white liberals keep trying to make silk purses out of negro’s ears, this comedy will continue to play out. 

  • I grew up in the Antelope Valley in the 60’s and 70’s and those places are now places to avoid. And why on earth would anyone invest into something that will get burned down the minute blacks decide they don’t like the way things are going for them, even when it’s their own damn fault?

  • This_Name_Doesnt_Exist

    Now I’m sure that the director of something called “UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment” has to be pulling in a healthy six-figure salary.

    But I still won’t hold my breath for Chris Tilly to put his money where his mouth is and lead from the front when it comes to investing in South Central.  Or maybe Chris Tilly is simply an idiot, with his opinion that the schools are the problem.

    Americans built the Erie Canal when there wasn’t one single certified engineer in the whole country.  So certification and education for education’s sake isn’t quite the panacea we’re all told it is.  Leftist “educators” like to think they’re the root solution to every social problem.  I wonder if it’s hubris or stupidity that keeps them from realizing that schools get worse the more they meddle in them.

  • These stories always make me think….jobs doing what? Like Marion Berry a few weeks ago complaining about Asians not investing in poor areas.  What can these people do? What can they be trained to do?  They will have to wait until the economic tide rises ago so we can subsidize their jobs.  
    “Muscular public investment” in education .  More of the same.   These people do not and they never will have the basic life skills needed to gain access to the employment market.  The jobs they can do, do not exist anymore on the scale needed to support them.  

    In my experience in working at a college.  Many  blacks would not attempt to find entry level jobs (fast food, call center, clerks…etc).  It’s like they would not understand the need to establish work experience.  They thought some sort of associates degree or professional cert would give them access to a good job.  The curriculum is so watered down anyone could pass, so their skills cannot back-up their degrees.  

    Trying to explain that developing good work habits and establishing a resume are keys to success was like reading Shakespeare to my dog.  

    What they would do is learn how to get more financial aid.  These secrets are passed down  orally by relatives and friends.  Many of the first term student would know exactly when to withdrawal from a class so they would get loan money refunded to them.  The next day, new cloths, car stereos, and rims.

  • ageofknowledge

    The domestic labor market has been gutted by our politicians and the people that paid them to gut it. It’s not coming back unless we vote them all out and put people in place to change it. Economy In Crisis

  • KenelmDigby

    So you burn down all the businesses, murder, intimidaate and maim any businessman silly enough to locate in the area, steal anything that’s not nailed down to the floor, mug children in the street, steal and vanadalize cars, and then you whine that no one wants to open a business in your neighborhood.

  • Nugentrocks22322

    So do whites with the current administration that has to be ousted in Nov or you can kiss America goodbye. Perfect timing for divine intervention. Thank you TP. Barbara bugeye Bush and her type Republicans are such a pathetically lost breed who do not know their butt  from a  hole in the ground. The Democrats are not the same and 180 difference. Wallace called it right in 1968 saying there wasnt a dime of difference between a Democrat and Republican although that was a given.  You have to save the people from themselves. Over 150 yrs ago PT Barnum said there was a sucker born every minute while WC Fields over 100 yrs ago said he wrong and there was a sucker born every second. There are 1,314,000 seconds in a year.   Do the math.

  • haroldcrews

    Personally I’m torn between whether a second Obama term would be better for race realism or if wide spread black riots/looting/violence would be.

  • haroldcrews

    That and the black small business owner was not able to effectively compete against white businesses once segregation ended.

  • BLEAKER job picture?
    They DON’T NEED jobs – they have INCREASED Welfare now.

    Vote Obama!

  • ed91


    Quien da una mierda?

  • MikeofAges

    Investment in the community? My experience is, what blacks want most often is a job with an institutional employer, a large stable entity that will be around for a long time. Even if that job isn’t so great and glorious. If they would say as much themselves, the rest of us would see something we could connect to.

    Always been a problem with concreteness. M.L. King talked about economic justice toward the end. But he had trouble articulating the idea into a concrete program. Said before, if King’s dream was  achieved one fine Saturday afternoon, a lot of people would have to go work on Monday morning. Mostly in a lot of not so glamorous jobs.

  • Periapsis

    Riots=Permanent flight of employers and jobs. It’s as simple as that. What businessman in his right mind would open a business in an area where it can be burned down, trustworthy employees are scarce and customers risk their lives patronizing it?

  • JackKrak

    Wait – South L.A. was 50% black before the riots and is now 30% black?

    So there IS improvement since the riots after all…..

  • Jackryanvn

    Urban Blacks like big box stores like Target – near but not directly in poor, all Black urban areas. blacks get some jobs, low cost, decent quality food. There isn’t the resentment of Asian merchant outsiders coming in, making a living while Black residents stay poor.

    • That they do, but the whites end up going to the one the blacks cannot take a bus or train to.  My sister lives in a mostly white suburb except for a few apartment complexes.  It’s near a majority black city.  They built a Target and nice little strip mall.  Way more blacks then whites…my sister goes about 10 miles away to shop.  Diversity in action.  Blacks show up—whites leave.

  •  The author of that book (John Stormer) is a St. Louisan.  And I hate to disappoint you, but he’s also a big time race panderer.  And I’m saying “race panderer” in lieu of a less civilized two word phrase that involves the word “lover.”

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    There have been training and other job programs

    It’s over.  We have spent trillions on the War on Poverty since LBJs “Great Society.” Poverty won.

    Why would anyone sane invest in South LA?  

    It has the highest rates of crime in the region including robbery, carjackings and murder.  There is also the presence of loudmouthed activists like Battle-Axe Maxine making demands and egging on rioters and looters.  Who wants to deal with a workforce that is insolent, lazy and poorly educated? 

    Why should they work?  Maxine is making sure the government checks show up on time month after month, year after year, decade after decade.  


    • Yes, poverty.  The undisputed champion of the black community.  

      I don’t know anyone in their right mind who would invest in black communities without the appropriate government incentives.  It’s not only that they have no skills…they don’t have the discipline or aptitude to gain them.  As a whole, they will never be able to raise themselves up.  

      • Anonymous

        Blacks scream they are in a bad situations because they’re poor or discriminated against.  They never think they are in the situations they’re in because of their behavior and attitudes.  Hell, even the most loser ‘white trailer trash’ people I’ve met still had a work ethic and still kept out of trouble.  They never blamed rich people or immigrants for their problems.  Most of them blamed themselves for being poor.  With blacks, it’s always someone else’s fault.  It’s a scam they are running by screaming racism and using the past to justify their failures. 

  • Anonymous

    They also like to riot and cause drama scenes in their, too.  Think of Chuck E. Cheese or Denny’s videos on Youtube.

  • Anonymous

    Funny how they don’t want to serve white customers, yet they want to force white businesses to hire them and do business with them.

  • Were you high when you wrote this?? Take a drive down near 6th and Spring some day….

  • ageofknowledge

    “California’s like a beautiful, wild… beautiful, wild girl on heroin…
    who’s high as a kite, thinkin’ she’s on top of the world, not knowing she’s
    dying even if you show her the marks.” -Motorcycle Boy (Rumble Fish).

  • Hirene

    Why haven’t the Democrats done anything to restrict immigration that hurts blue collar workers.  Because they know blacks will vote for them no matter what.

    •  The SEIU is using NAFTA to file a complaint against Alabama’s immigration laws.

      I seem to remember a time when unions opposed NAFTA, and there was also a time long before my day when they opposed open borders.

      Except that I think the SEIU is a bought off sleeper cell for the cheap labor open borders lobby.  Andy Stern’s biography reads far more like a Fortune 500 CEO than that of a union leader.  He probably has a locker at a country club next to a CEO he pretends to hate.

  • vladdy1

    I’m afraid that if obama is reelected, there will be no America as we know it.