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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Industrial and Occupational Change in Los Angeles: The Concentration and Polarization of Minority and White Laborers


Metropolitan Los Angeles is one of the laJgeSt inclustnal regions in the world and one of the most important destina­ tions of immigrants in the U.S. 1his artide examines the relationship between the city's old and new workforce (immi­ grants, women, and baby boomers). It addresses the ques­ tion: how did Latinos, Nrican-Americans, and whites "rit" into Los Angeles' economy between 1970 and 1980. Several theories about the position of minorities and women in post­ industrial society are analyzed for their applicability to Los Angeles: (1) mismatch; (2) polarization; and (3) ethnic succes­ sion. The author, using a shift-share method employed in a similar study on New York Oty, tests the ethnic succession hypothesis in Los Angeles. He condudes that, unlike New York, Los Angeles' white population did not decrease in its total employment, thus not allowing for a large minority employmentsuccession. Ukewise,themismatchandpolari­ zation theories do not fully capture what is occurring in Los Angeles. Instead, laborers in Los Angeles cOntinue to be con­ centratedinjobsalonglinesofraceandgender. Inaddition, minority and female workers are concentrated in /ow-paying and low-skilled jobs, which contributes to wase polarization by race and gender.

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