Strategies for Economic Survival: A Labor and Employment Assessment of Westlake and Pico-Union
This report, conducted by Community Scholars, aims to understand economic survival strategies of the predominantly Latino immigrant community living in the Westlake and Pico- Union neighborhoods. The research group created a seventeen question survey to gather data about the socioeconomic status of the population living in these two neighborhoods.
This report explores issues that surfaced from the findings such as: type of occupation currently engaged in, wage issues, workplace issues, as well as what the ideal job would be.
Our results found that over 67% of survey respondents indicated earning a monthly income of below $1,200 a month. According to research conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, this is below the living wage calculated for Los Angeles which is estimated to be $1,900 a month. In addition 33% of survey respondents indicated being paid late by their employer.
In order to combat these labor conditions we found that respondents used four major strategies to survive economically:
- Multiple Jobs – 20% of survey respondents have two or more jobs.
- Long Work Hours – 30% of respondents indicated working over 40 hours a week.
- Informal Self Employment – 55% of respondents are classified as self-employed informal workers such as Street Vendors and Day Laborers.
- Rely on Day Labor Centers – 36% of day laborers stated prior experience with police harassment and 47% experience workplace accident or injury. As a result day laborers depend heavily on day labor centers in order to help curb police harassment and as a safe haven to be able to work.
Additionally, we developed three policy recommendations we will give the City of Los Angeles and community organizations:
- Allocate funding to worker centers and community organizations to conduct job training courses.
- Decriminalize workers in industries that have traditionally faced great discrimination and harassment from the police and the city.
- Create incentives for workers to start their own businesses.