Los Angeles County fell sharply in an annual ranking of job growth and economic performance among metropolitan areas, according to a Milken Institute report released on Jan. 10.
According to the institute’s annual Best Performing Cities index of the 200 largest cities and metropolitan areas in the nation, Los Angeles County fell to the No. 61 spot from No. 48 last year, a drop of 13 in the rankings. The main reason for the drop: a slowdown in job growth in the 12-month period from August 2016 through August 2017.
Major change at the federal level and increasing pressure from demographic and economic forces are pushing California into uncharted territory. Wide-ranging critical issues—our environment, our health care, the future of our immigrant populations—are prompting state leaders to rethink California’s role in national and global communities.
"Robot Apocalypse" is a modern expression that refers to a fear of technological advance, but the anxiety goes back centuries.1 In 1589, Queen Elizabeth refused to grant the inventor of a mechanical knitting machine a patent for fear of putting manual knitters out of work.2 In the early 19th century, textile artisans called Luddites attempted to prevent or derail the mechanization of the textile industry. Even economists, such as John Maynard Keynes, have worried about "technological unemployment."3 The fear has not receded. A recent headline from Business Insider suggests that "machines may replace half of human jobs."4 Before your anxiety rises to uncomfortable levels, consider economist David Autor's warning that journalists tend to overstate the extent to which machines will substitute for human labor and ignore the positive aspects that benefit workers and create jobs.
Faced with rising labor costs, thanks in part to a big boost in California’s minimum wage, and shortages of workers, employers throughout the state are trying to replace human labor with machines.
Amazon’s highly automated warehouses that have seemingly sprung up overnight throughout the state are testaments to that desire, as are intensified efforts in large-scale, labor-intensive agriculture to develop machinery that can handle even the most delicate crops such as strawberries.
The pace of hiring slowed in December, but the U.S. unemployment rate held at a 17-year low, suggesting it is becoming more difficult for employers to find workers.
Nonfarm payrolls rose a seasonally adjusted 148,000 in December, the Labor Department said. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate remained at 4.1%, matching the lowest level since December 2000 for the third straight month. Hourly wages improved modestly and rose 2.5% from a year earlier. Economists expected 180,000 new jobs and a 4.1% unemployment rate.