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LA County is adding jobs, but the pay isn't great

Waiters and bartenders will be in high demand over the next five years, but the positions often pay below $30,000 a year.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Los Angeles County has seen the loss of about 90,000 manufacturing jobs over the last decade, according to a new report from the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. About the same number of food services jobs were created during that same time.

Los Angeles County has recovered all the jobs it shed in the Great Recession, but many of the new jobs aren’t as good as the ones they're replacing, according to an economic forecast released today

The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation reports that while the region lost about 90,000 middle-class manufacturing jobs over the last decade to automation and globalization, it grew about the same number of lower-paying jobs in the food services industry.

Manufacturing workers on average earned $52,000, compared to the $20,000 average for food servers, the report found. 

"The economy is undergoing a kind of structural transformation," said economist Christine Cooper, the report's lead author. "There is a higher growth in lower-paid jobs that may be part-time and may require fewer skills."

Cooper said the next couple years will see the creation of 135,000 jobs in the county, many of them in the health care and business support industries. She said temp workers will be in hot demand.

"Businesses are more inclined to hire contract labor than bringing someone new on payroll. It gives them a little bit more flexibility," Cooper said.

Cooper said to bring back good-paying jobs with benefits, civic leaders must work with philanthropic groups and educators to promote the region's top industries: entertainment, aerospace and defense. 

"We want to make sure they’re globally competitive, and provide the ecosystem they need to thrive," Cooper said.

She said important steps include making sure local students get training for the skills needed for those industries and providing help to small to mid-sized businesses so they can maximize their profits.

Cooper said these are ways to correct an economy where the wealth gap is widening and creating a  "bifurcated society where we have very wealthy, highly-paid people who buy services (from people) with lower skills in lower-paying service industries."