Because economic well-being is a critical ingredient for overall well-being, one-third of the American Human Development Index is devoted to the capabilities people have to enjoy a decent material standard of living.
While the typical wages and salaries in LA County and in the United States are nearly equal at just over $30,000, the earnings highs by race and ethnicity are higher and the lows lower in LA County than in the country as a whole. Median earnings in LA County are $30,654, which is roughly on par with those of California and the country as a whole. However, earnings within the county range from over $83,000 in Palos Verdes Estates—over two and half times the county median—to roughly $16,000 in Westwood, home of UCLA and many university students with strong health and educational outcomes but earnings that reflect their student status.
In a momentous shift for workers at the very bottom of the pay scale, the recent phased increase in the minimum wage for the City of LA, unincorporated areas in LA County, and many of the county’s cities had an immediate effect on low-wage workers and their families. Prior to the minimum wage raise, a total of 368,460 workers in the City of LA—roughly one in five—earned the minimum wage. A common stereotype of those working at minimum wage is that they are young, working part time, and do not count on their jobs to pay the rent or feed their families. In the City of LA, raising the minimum wage means providing a much-needed lift largely to full-time workers, most of whom are 30 or older, and over one-third of whom have children. In short, this policy is an opportunity to transform the lives of hundreds of thousands of county residents.
Excerpted with permission from A Portrait of LA County by Measure of America. Visit Measure of America to learn more.