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Report Shows Large Disparities Among L.A. Area Residents

 LOS ANGELES  -- It's no surprise that some residents of the L.A. area are thriving, while others are merely surviving. But a new report released today provides, for the first time, an easy to understand, composite number that measures the well-being of Los Angeles residents in the areas of health, education and income. 

A Portrait of California uses the internationally-recognized Human Development Index to rank how Los Angeles residents are doing against key benchmarks, broken out by demographic, geographic and other distinctions.

Prepared by the American Human Development Project, the index is calculated using standard government data that is weighted equally to come up with a composite score with 10 being the highest possible.

These include life expectancy at birth and mortality rates to measure health; age of school enrollment and educational degree attainment to measure education; and median earnings to measure people's standard of living/income.

The Los Angeles metro area, which includes Los Angelesand Orange counties, scored 5.52 on the scale, slightly better than the state as a whole (5.46). But, major variation exists when you look at where people live in the region, as well as ethnicity and gender.

Elise Buik, President & CEO of United Way of Greater Los Angeles, said: "Education, health and income really are the building blocks for a good life. And there remain wide disparities and a huge gulf between the haves and have nots in our region. In our work to create pathways out of poverty, we've been focused on improving outcomes in these areas for some time. This report further underscores why our efforts to change the conditions that keep people in poverty, such as improving  the high school graduation rate and providing housing stability, are so important."

Key Findings for Los Angeles:


A baby born today in the Los Angeles metro area can expect to live 80.7 years, about half a year longer than the average for the state and two years longer than the average for the nation. But this average obscures staggering variation:

  • Life expectancy at birth by community ranges from 88.1 years in the Orange County communities around Newport Beachand Laguna Hills to only 72.8 years in the Watts section of Los Angeles, a gap of 15 years within the same metropolitan area.
  • Latinos in L.A. outlive whites by an average of 3.3 years. An Asian American baby born today in L.A. can expect to outlive an African American baby by about 12 years. Asian Americans live, on average, to 85.6 years, Latinos to 83.4 years, whites to 80.1, and African Americans to 73.4 years.


The Los Angeles metro area has relatively high levels of bachelor's and higher degrees alongside tremendous challenges with basic educational attainment. For example:

  • In the Orange County city of Irvine, the L.A. communities of Bel AirBrentwoodPacific Palisades, and the Beach Cities, two out of three adults have a bachelor's degree or higher.
  • However, L.A. has the largest proportion of adults who never completed high school of the five largest metro areas inCalifornia, with over 22 percent of adults lacking a high school diploma or GED. In the Vernon Central neighborhood in L.A., almost two out of every three adults never completed high school.
  • L.A. high school completion is highest among whites, at 94 percent, followed by African Americans at 89 percent, Asian Americans at 87 percent. Only about 55 percent of L.A. Latino adults have completed high school.


Median personal earnings in the Los Angeles area are around $29,000 per year. This represents the wages and salaries of the typical worker 16 years of age and over. Median earnings in L.A. are roughly equal to the typical earnings of workers inCalifornia and in the nation as a whole. However, earnings vary extensively by race/ethnicity and by neighborhood:

  • Earnings range from $58,000 in the Beach Cities of Manhattan, Redondo and Hermosa to about $15,000 a year aroundEast Adams and Exposition Park. This is below the wages and salaries of the typical American worker ($17,000) one half century ago—in inflation-adjusted dollars.
  • Earnings are highest among whites, $43,000 per year, followed by $35,000 for Asian Americans, $30,000 for African Americans, and $21,000 for Latinos.

United Ways of Greater Los Angeles has many programs that seek to address these disparities:

  • Funds permanent supportive housing for the chronically homeless. This model is over 40% more cost effective than leaving the homeless on the streets.
  • Helps fund and promote free community tax preparation programs and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites for low income families and individuals.
  • Funds the Leadership Matters program with the California League of Middle Schools. This pilot program at 8 underperforming LAUSD middle schools develops the leadership skills of principals and their leadership teams.
  • Supports tutoring at community-based sites and low-performing middle schools across the county.

About United Way of Greater Los Angeles

United Way of Greater Los Angeles is a nonprofit organization that creates pathways out of poverty by helping homeless people move into housing, providing students with the support they need to graduate high school prepared for college and the workforce, and helping hard-working families become financially stable. United Way identifies the root causes of poverty and works strategically to solve them by building alliances across all sectors, funding targeted programs and advocating for change.

STORY TAGS: Black News, African American News, Minority News, Civil Rights News, Discrimination, Racism, Racial Equality, Bias, Equality, Afro American News, Asian News, Asian American News, Asian Pacific Islander News, Minority News, Civil Rights, Discrimination, Racism, Diversity, Racial Equality, Bias, Equality, Hispanic News, Latino News, Mexican News, Minority News, Civil Rights, Discrimination, Racism, Diversity, Latina, Racial Equality, Bias, Equality

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