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California fares better than the nation as a whole in recession, USC report shows

April 05, 2011|By Ari Bloomekatz | Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Despite soaring unemployment, California and Los Angeles County have fared better on many indicators during the recession than the nation as a whole, according to a report released Tuesday by USC.

The study, titled "California Roller Coaster: Income and Housing in Boom and Bust, 1990-2010," used data from the U.S. census and other sources to compare measures, such as employment growth and homeownership between the recession of the early 1990s and the recent Great Recession.

The study found, for example, that the poverty rate in Los Angeles County peaked at 23.8% in 1993, compared with 16% in 2009.

The study also showed that household incomes in Los Angeles County soared above the national average by 8.3% in 2009 and that, despite the economic downturn, median household income in home values and real dollars grew over the last decade.

It also found that of those hardest hit by the recent economic downturn, young adults fared the worst. About 20% of 16- to 24-year-olds looking for jobs were unemployed in 2009, and homeownership rates dropped 5.4% from 2006 to 2009 for those 25 to 44.

"The younger generation was especially damaged by this cycle of events and some of them may have been permanently dislodged to the status of renters," wrote Dowell Myers, USC professor and lead author of the study.

"But we might hope that the reduced house prices also have lowered the barrier to homeownership for countless others," he added.

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