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Closing Income Gap

September 10, 2000

* While no one would deny the importance of education for a comfortable and meaningful life ("Labor's Winning Ticket," editorial, Sept. 4), it is naive to suggest that the income gap can be closed simply through education and training. The Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy recently released a study on the working poor in Los Angeles. The report shows that while the L.A. economy has produced vast rewards for some during the last decade, it has also created thousands of poverty-level jobs. Furthermore, seven of the 10 fastest growing occupations in Los Angeles--including janitor, cashier and security guard--pay wages of less than $8.50 an hour. Education policy alone will not alter that trajectory. Unless we address the quality of these jobs--by raising the minimum wage, by supporting living wage laws and by creating a better climate for union organizing--we will simply have a better trained group of workers employed in the economy's low-wage sector.

The stock market is also not the answer. Two-thirds of American households own either no stock or less than $5,000 worth, according to the D.C.-based Economic Policy Institute.

JESSICA GOODHEART

Research Director

L.A. Alliance for a New Economy

JOHN MEDEARIS

Assistant Prof. of Political Science

Cal State Northridge

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