A common problem in trying to discern trends in poverty and inequality is that the data that we often have at hand are usually not particularly recent. The lag between when data are collected and publicly available can be significant, especially in a rapidly changing economy like we’ve been in over last several months. Also, to be really helpful, data would tell us as much as where we’re going as well as where we’ve been.
A new report from the LA-based Economic Roundtable attempts to meet those needs by providing a wealth of the most recent data on how the current recession is affecting everything from employment, income, housing, poverty and health in Los Angeles and the state. Using historical data on recessions and employment projections from respected forecasters, the report produces estimates for how residents will fare over the coming years. If you are interested in where we’ve been and could be going, check out Ebbing Tides in the Golden State: Impacts of the 2008 Recession on California and Los Angeles County.
In general, the report sees conditions continuing to worsen over the next year but then starting to improve steadily by 2011 or 2012. It even provides estimates of how much poverty and homelessness will increase or decrease. Are these accurate? Of course there is no way to know. As the Nobel Prize laureate physicist Niels Bohr said, “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.” At the very least, Ebbing Tides in the Golden State provides an important overall understanding of how deep the recession is affecting us.