Columnists Mayor Eric Garcetti Opinion

COMMUNITY REPORT: Putting people to work in good-paying jobs is next step

Just a few weeks ago in Harbor City, I presented my third State of the City Address — and I called on each of you, the people of Los Angeles, to join me in confronting the defining challenges of our time.

Since taking office, I have delivered on my promise to get back to basics, by focusing City Hall on meeting the needs of our neighborhoods. We’ve more than tripled tree trimming, set records for street paving at 2,400 miles a year, begun hiring firefighters for the first time in five years, and we’re investing $31 million to repair our sidewalks — the most in L.A. history.

But getting back to basics isn’t just about the services delivered out of City Hall. There’s nothing more basic than a roof over your head. There’s nothing more basic than a job and a wage you can raise a family on.

That’s why a centerpiece of our back-to-basics agenda was a comprehensive jobs plan. And today, we’re seeing the results of that work: Unemployment hasn’t just been cut a little, it’s been cut in half — we have added 112,000 new jobs in Los Angeles since I took office.

Hollywood is coming home. Emerging industries like digital and green technology are creating a new generation of middle-class jobs. We’re raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and the state of California has followed our lead.

This is what government looks like when it works for the people.

But here’s the thing: you can’t average out prosperity. It can’t be measured only by the unemployment rate, or the total wealth of the city. Our progress must be felt by all Angelenos, or we have not fulfilled our mandate.

Good-paying jobs are at the center of that promise.

The city of Los Angeles is the county’s third-largest employer — so one way that City Hall can help is by reforming and refining our own hiring practices. There is a unique opportunity to do this now, with 46 percent of L.A.’s municipal workforce eligible to retire by 2018.

We’re going to hire an estimated 5,000 workers over the next few years, and I want everyone to have a fair shot at applying for those good, middle-class jobs.

That’s why, last week, I signed an executive directive ordering city departments to bring those jobs to where they’re needed most. We have to make sure that people who have been historically left out — communities of color, veterans, the formerly incarcerated, disconnected youth, Angelenos who have been unsheltered — are in the hiring pool.

To support that mission, I put together a Local Hiring Task Force that will help us connect underemployed Angelenos to job opportunities. Our partners on the task force include the L.A. Black Worker Center, National Action Network, Southern Christian Leadership Conference-L.A., the Community Coalition and the Watts Gang Task Force.

We have joined forces because we have a common vision for L.A.: This must be a place where everyone has a fair chance to be employed. People in every part of our city deserve the opportunity to earn an honest living, and to take home paychecks they can raise a family on.

It is our duty to ensure that every qualified Angeleno — no matter who they are, or where life has taken them — has equal opportunity to apply for jobs that put them to work now, and set them on course for lasting careers.

As we move forward with that work, we’ll make the most meaningful impact by prioritizing those men and women who have faced the largest barriers to employment. It is not only the right thing to do, but it is fundamental to L.A.’s enduring prosperity and the health of all our communities.

Mayor Eric Garcetti’s “Community Report” column runs the first Thursday of every month in The Wave.