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Not the Number of Jobs, But Their Quality Counts as a Measure of True Business Strength

October 02, 1994

I hate to see an academic institution like UCLA adopt mostly political gauges of business strength when describing the economic status of California ("UCLA Forecast for State Is Surprisingly Rosy," Sept. 21). While the number of jobs in the economy is a popular and perhaps necessary measure of activity for politicians, it really fails (drastically) as an accurate indicator of overall business strength.

Just examine the differences between San Diego and its neighbor Tijuana. Both regions have roughly the same number of jobs, but according to the March, 1994, issue of California Business, the gross regional product of San Diego is some 20 times larger than that of Tijuana ($60 billion versus $3 billion)!

I can understand UCLA's desire to convey the impression that all is becoming well with Southern California's business climate despite the grave loss of the headquarters of the Lockheed Corp. as well as hundreds of thousands of well-paying, high-skill defense jobs. However, it is a serious error to imply that the formation of an equal number of minimum-wage service and cottage retail jobs somehow means that California's economy is in an upturn.

Of all local institutions, UCLA should know the primary importance of developing higher-skill-level positions for a region's economic well-being and global competitive status.

A. DANIEL ELIASON

Santa Barbara

*

The article on the UCLA forecast predicting a net gain of 111,000 jobs for California in 1994 tolls the bell of doom for a statistically small number of jobs to be lost.

In any economy, jobs are lost and started each day. The media preoccupation with unemployment and other belt-tightening factors, such as service-sector predominance in the job market, serves to frighten people. We fear loss of jobs or security. The media bombards us with these fears.

Frightened people are malleable people. Fears of poverty, crime, ill health, etc. cause stagnation: We hold on to what we have and don't ask for more. The fearless strong get richer.

Media manipulation of our minds serves to pacify and de-energize us. Where would we be without fear, but, perhaps, in a better place?

DIANE FORVE

Los Angeles

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