Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Low-Paying Jobs Filling the Southland

12/5/14 - According to recent data, job creation in the Southland has steadily been making its way back to higher levels. However, this data can be misleading. While new jobs are being created, thus allowing more unemployed workers back into the labor force, most of these jobs are in food service and retail sales. Such low-paying jobs, while better than nothing, don't provide the kind of increased domestic productivity that our economy so desperately needs. In his L.A. Times article, Chris Kirkham looks into the effects that this trend may have on the ongoing economic recovery.

Kirkham's sources point to two possibilities for this trend: 1) a decrease in the availability of jobs in higher-paying industries; or the more likely option 2) a lack of individuals with advanced education forces such industries to look elsewhere for employees. As Kirkham points out, many of the industries that once provided the opportunity to advance, manufacturing and construction in particular, have gone through changes that allow for a decrease in the amount of necessary employees. New technology, while helpful to society as a whole, removes the necessity of several positions in the industries, thus lessening the availability of such industrial jobs.

More than just the influx of new technology, though, is the fact that most higher-paying jobs require that those holding the jobs have some form of higher education. The bare minimum for these positions is usually a bachelor's degree, but some require further knowledge as gained in graduate school or beyond. The main problem, it seems, is that only 30% of workers in the Southland, compared to over 40% in the Bay Area, have a bachelor's degree, and that just isn't enough to fill the growing need for skilled employees. Without workers to fill these positions, many companies are forced to move elsewhere to find employees.

With a trend toward lower-paying jobs comes a marked decrease in median household income. Just as the Southland has more individuals lacking college degrees, nearly 18% of families in Southern California fall below the poverty line, a dramatic difference from the Bay Area's 11%. According to experts, the way to boost income levels in the Southland is to get more of the population into post-secondary schooling options.

A variety of high-paying jobs are indeed available in Southern California. From healthcare to construction, and everything in between, there are plenty of job opportunities for those with the necessary skills. All we need now is for people to gain those skills.

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