From the hills to the beaches, one of the greatest economic drivers in Los Angeles is the tourism industry. Last year the city broke visitation records for the third consecutive year, but the thriving tourism industry in L.A. is also a major source of what local community organizers call "poverty jobs."
"The continuing, record-breaking growth and strength of tourism in Los Angeles is a shining light for our economy, creating good-paying jobs for our families, benefiting local businesses, and generating significant revenue for the city," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti at a Jan. 6 press conference celebrating the record number of visitors.
But an analysis of U.S. Census data found about 40 percent of hospitality workers in Los Angeles County live below twice the federal poverty level, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
Union organizers in the city say the hotel industry's record number of visitors is precisely why it is poised more than any other sector to be able to offer workers a living wage. The county labor organization and the hotel and restaurant workers union, Unite Here Local 11, have launched a campaign to require a $15.37 hourly wage for hotel workers in Los Angeles.