U.S. cities grapple for new jobs in economic upswing

Tue Nov 24, 2009 7:45am EST
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By Mary Milliken

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - In a depressed neighborhood in the City of Angels, hundreds of good jobs appeared to fall from the sky last week.

Young and middle-aged Los Angeles residents, mostly blacks and Hispanics, lined up down the block at an employment office for more than 600 jobs, paying $14 an hour and higher with free healthcare, at new JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton hotels downtown.

But this was no miracle, nor was it a windfall from President Barack Obama's economic stimulus plan. Rather, it was the payoff from years of work by City Hall to draw new investments and ensure jobs go primarily to locals.

And that is the problem. As the U.S. economy shows glimmers of improvement, there is not much even a city of 4 million people can do to take advantage of it quickly.

Los Angeles, the second-largest U.S. city, has a jobless rate of 13.9 percent. Like other big U.S. cities, it has few tools to spur jobs as the economy picks up again.

"This could be a two-year, jobless recovery," Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Larry Frank told Reuters.

Irena Seta, a coordinator at the employment center located near the Los Angeles Coliseum sports stadium, said many job-seeking clients are now unemployed up to 18 months, and she expects little improvement next year.

"It will probably be in 2011 when we see a vast increase in employment," said Seta, surrounded by hundreds of hopeful applicants for jobs located a few miles up the freeway.   Continued...

<p>Applicant Veronica Diaz, 35, holds her 18-month-old son Diego Galliano as she stands in line during a job fair at the Southeast LA-Crenshaw WorkSource Center in Los Angeles, November 20, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>