Los Angeles is a large American city with millions of people. In 2013, it had 3,857,799 residents to be exact. Of that more than 3.8 million, almost 2 million were Hispanic or Latino, or 49.3 percent of the total population; more than a million were “white,” or 28.2 percent of the total population; about 435,000 were Asian, or 11.2 percent of the total population; and less than 333,000 were “black,” or 8.6 percent of the total population.
But although the majority of the residents were Hispanic or Latino in 2013, some familiar economic activity took place. As Figure 1 illustrates, the group with the largest percentage of median household incomes over $75 thousand in 2013 were “whites,” while “blacks” trailed behind “whites” in the same category by exactly 18 percent – 21.9 percent to 39.9 percent. But there was also a bit of a surprise, or maybe not?
In 2013, the two of the four largest groups in Los Angeles had the lowest rates of median household income; that is, 21.9 percent of the “black” households and 19.6 percent of Latino households in Los Angeles had a median household income of more than $75 thousand. However, the other two of the four largest groups in Los Angeles had the highest rates of median household income. “Whites” were one of those groups and Asians were the other group. In that year, the percentage of the median household income over $75 thousand for Asians was 38.4 percent, which was a difference of only 1.5 percent below that of whites. What may explain the economic success of Asians in Los Angeles?
Traditionally, “whites” have been the dominant population by economic, political, and social standards. They have also been the dominant group by population. But clearly they are not the dominant group by population in Los Angeles, although they are still dominant by median household income.
If “whites” are still prominant economically but Latinos are not, then what explains a minority group with more economic power. How is this possible? Is it because of the economic, political, and social headstart that Tim Wise alludes to in his writing and speaking? And how does Los Angeles compare to other American cities such as Minneapolis, Boston, Dallas, New York, and Seattle?
This is just one of the many the questions that will be asked and answered as this analysis of Los Angeles economic system and general system continues.