Downey’s residents keep working while nearby cities languish


Source: California EDD

Downey’s unemployment rate continues to stay far below rates in adjacent cities, according to July employment figures released by the state.

Downey’s rate held at 10.7 percent, far less than Bellflower, Norwalk and most nearby communities.

The recession hit blue-collar Latino communities hard, said Dezzie Prewitt, an economics professor at Rio Hondo Community College.

“I hate to say it, but the data varies by race,” he said. “A lot of it has to with the reason why people are unemployed.”

The construction industry has been decimated by the down economy, according to state and federal data. And many of the recent immigrants living in nearby cities worked in the building industry.

Nearly one fourth of all Commerce residents are out of work, according to figures from the California Employment Development Department released last week. Bell Gardens isn’t faring much better, with 20.1 percent of its population looking for jobs.

In addition, government studies do not take into account those who stopped looking for work. So the numbers are even worse than reported, Prewitt said.

Nationwide, “there are at least 10 million people out there who just gave up,” he said.

Meanwhile, experts predict that economy is on the precipice of a second recession — the feared double dip.

“Most economists right now think we’re on the edge, right on the edge,” Prewitt said.

The down economy is starting to change the way we think about employment, he said. Migration patterns are changing. People are reconsidering home ownership, and older workers aren’t retiring.

Even in jobs that traditionally are in high demand, such as nursing, work is scarce, Prewitt said.

Prewitt believes only a massive government intervention will change things.

“People hate the term fiscal policy, but the reality is the government needs to help the economy recover,” he said.

Voters should consider the possibility the United States needs another stimulus package, Prewitt said.

Meanwhile, businesses in Downey are still hiring.

Kaiser Permanente in Downey listed several positions, and several machine shops are looking for qualified workers.

Temp firms and retailers at the Stonewood Center are also hiring.


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