What is causing the free-fall in job losses in California, while the Great Plains, with the raw exception of a few spots, are past the recession? 63,000 jobs vanished in California in September, of 95,000 lost in the United States.
This is Night of the Living Dead economics, as reported by 60 Minutes a few days ago. Have you seen the animated Vanishing Employment Map, where the Great Plains appear to be a different -- hell, THEY ARE a different -- country. Why?
Los Angeles appears to be a job-free epicenter, a vast black hole built on a Dutch Tulip Craze of condo construction and luxury development.
The Weekly's Steven Leigh Morris explained what it's really all about in "Bitter Homes and Gardens: City Hall's Density Hawks Are Changing L.A.'s DNA."
The Great Plains didn't have a housing construction craze/insane home price boom in the 2000s. Nor did they have a massive foreclosure disaster, its ugly twin, to follow.
Now, four-time-failed-the-California-Bar-Exam Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is back at again, yes, touting massive condo/apartment construction, land speculation and development.
Are developers and speculators are going to build us out of this?
Milken Institute fellow Michael Bernick notes that "when the recovery comes in California it will come when private sector employers finally have the confidence to begin hiring."
There's little that can be done within the Los Angeles city limits to create that kind of confidence, in part because L.A. City Hall is synonymous with inept government.
But the surrounding and outlying 'burbs of L.A. -- Glendale, Burbank, Calabasas, Santa Monica, Culver City, Thousand Oaks, Agoura Hills, Santa Clarita, Valencia, Pasadena, Arcadia -- are often nimble. Some of those cities are capable of creativity in a pinch.
Several of them have loads of empty commercial space for lease, and both the landlords and the 'burbs would like to fill it.
In the 'burbs, both sides could perhaps find a way to give something up to make that happen.
And a lot of people have turned to working at home, even as the City of Los Angeles punitively taxes its residents for quietly sewing, designing or accounting in the privacy of their homes.
In fact, with its heavy tax on people who work in their homes, the City of Los Angeles is aggressively creating an incentive for people to leave their houses each day and commute on the freeways -- even as Villaraigosa and the MTA decry congestion.
Doesn't have to make any sense.
But out there in the Los Angeles 'burbs -- Burbank? Thousand Oaks? -- perhaps they could promote home-workers as a new job generator that's the greenest of all jobs, in line with Assembly Bill 32.
People who work at home don't use the roads, don't use one building during the daytime and one building at nighttime (how egregiously wasteful).
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Maybe the 'burbs could apply for federal and state green jobs credits. Valencia would really be AwesomeTown then.
Nobody really knows how to jump-start California's drain-circling economy, or the state would have turned the corner by now, instead of tanking further.
What clearly did fail, in the hysterical 2000s in Los Angeles, was making "the construction crane into the official bird of the City of Los Angeles.".
That was Villaraigosa's battle cry, putting all the city's economic eggs in that wispy, breakable basket that got smashed against the pavement on Wall Street.