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Southern California -- this just in

Category: Census/Demographics

Many L.A. Latinos live in neighborhoods with few whites, study says

Many Latinos in the Los Angeles area continue to live in ethnic enclaves with few whites as neighbors, according to a study by Brown University researchers.

Latinos in other metropolitan areas are more likely than Southern California Latinos to live in integrated neighborhoods. Nationwide, residential integration has increased significantly in the last decade for Puerto Ricans and South Americans, with lesser increases for Cubans, Central Americans and Mexicans.

The study by John Logan and Richard Turner, called “Hispanics in America: Not Only Mexicans,” used census data to track Latino populations from 1990 to 2010.

For Latinos in Southern California, it is easy to find clusters of fellow Mexicans, Salvadorans or Guatemalans. The Los Angeles area continues to lead the nation in residents of Mexican and Central American origin, though its relative share of those ethnic groups has declined.

In the 1990 census, 19% of respondents of Mexican origin lived in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area. In 2010, the number of Los Angeles-area Mexicans had increased from 2.5 million to 3.5 million, but they represented only 11% of the nationwide total.

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L.A. population will be much older, more settled, study says

Los Angeles is aging

The future of Los Angeles will be a grayer one, as aging boomers, slowing immigration and shrinking birthrates radically change the face of the county, a new study from USC predicts.

Seventeen years from now, senior citizens will make up nearly one-fifth of the county population, almost twice as many as at the start of the millennium, say Dowell Myers and John Pitkin of the USC Population Dynamics Research Group.

At the same time, the number of births will fall as families choose to have fewer children, the study predicts. Birthrates are already dwindling because immigration has plunged, sharply reducing the flow of newcomers who historically have had bigger families.

BEYOND 7 BILLION: World population explosion

The predicted result is fewer young workers to care for the growing ranks of the elderly – a trend that could pinch pocketbooks for families and the government.

The study predicts that over the next two decades, Los Angeles County will gain 867,000 senior citizens and lose 630,000 people younger than 25. A similar trend is underway nationwide but Los Angeles stands out because the shift comes after its earlier explosion in immigration and growth, Myers said.

“Los Angeles County is the most extreme example in California, and probably in the country” of the radical changes in population makeup to come nationally, he said. “Everything’s changed in California because we’re losing kids – and ground zero is Los Angeles County.”

Three years ago, senior citizens accounted for roughly 20 of every 100 adults of working age in Los Angeles County. Senior citizens are expected to account for 36 of every 100 adults in less than two decades.

By the middle of the century, the researchers predict, Los Angeles County will have more senior citizens per worker than California or the country as a whole – a reversal from where it stands today. Between Social Security, Medicare, pensions and other needs, “a lot is riding on the shoulders and wallets of the new generation of young adults,” the report said.

Experts have warned that governments across the country should prepare for the coming tide of the elderly. Growing demand for medical care will hit hospitals and state programs. Buses and walkable neighborhoods will be in demand for senior citizens who can no longer get behind the wheel. And a generation of smaller families will face new pressures as fewer adults try to provide for their aging parents.

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L.A. County honors World War II Marines who broke racial barriers

As part of Black History Month, Los Angeles County honored a group of U.S. Marines who broke down racial barriers.

About 20,000 black recruits were trained as Marines at Camp Montford Point in North Carolina during World War II. The U.S. House of Representatives awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor to the Montford Point Marines in 2011.

Los Angeles County officials presented scrolls to members of the local chapter of the Montford Point Marines Assn. at the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday.

Supervisor Don Knabe, who made the presentation, said the Marines "loyally served our nation in the face of prejudice and discrimination."

Montford Point Marines William "Jack" McDowell of Long Beach, 85, who served in World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars during his 23-year career as a Marine, and Vaughan Whitworth, 88, of Los Angeles, who served in the Pacific Theater during World War II, accepted the award.

Association chapter president Larry E. Michael Johnson, who joined the Marine Corps in 1972, thanked the Montford Point Marines for paving the way for him.

"If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be who I am today," he said.

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Latinos to make up plurality of Californians by 2014, report finds

For the first time since California became a state, Latinos will become a plurality in 2014 and they are set to become a crucial part of the workforce as baby boomers retire, according to the Department of Finance.

The figures released Thursday found Latinos will be even with the white population by mid-2013. Each is expected to be about 39% of the population, with Latinos gaining more numbers by the end of the year. 

As the white baby boomer population ages into retirement, Latinos and Asians will maintain the labor force and economy in California, according to the study.

The study looked at expected population shifts through 2060 for California. It found that by 2060, the state’s population will grow to nearly 52.7 million, about 40% higher than the most recent 2012 estimate.

While the white and black populations will increase by 2060, their numbers will have decreased in proportion to the total population. By then, Latinos will make up 48% of all Californians.

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City says it can't afford to pay for Tet parade in Little Saigon

Tet celebration in 2003.

The city that gave birth to Little Saigon is unable to help pay for the annual Tet parade and is asking residents in the heavily Vietnamese city to quickly ramp up a fundraising effort to help save a traditional event that marks the arrival of the Lunar New Year.

The Tet parade dates back 30 years in Westminster, an Orange County city that became a hub for Vietnamese immigrants after the fall of Saigon in 1975. The event was canceled in 2004 after losing money but returned four years later when the city again infused it with funds.

But this year, with a budget shortfall, the City Council gave organizers a parade permit but said there wasn’t enough money to help cover the $60,000 tab.

Tri Ta, the first Vietnamese American mayor of the city, described the parade "as a beautiful, cultural tradition that should be preserved," even if the city cannot contribute financially.

"I've been marching in that parade since I was in high school," added Councilman Sergio Contreras. "It's a staple -- a part of Westminster. I would like to see it continue."

Contreras, a member of the marching band at Westminster High School during the 1990s, said he was impressed upon hearing that immigrant activists had recently raised $200,000 in four weeks for victims of super storm Sandy.

"It sounds like they can come up with money in no time," he noted. "I think it's exciting that leaders are willing to step up and make it happen."

The parade, scheduled for Feb. 9, highlights the Lunar New Year, the community's biggest holiday. Its stage is Bolsa Avenue, the main drag for the largest Vietnamese cultural and business district outside the country itself, drawing a who's who among Vietnamese Americans along with Southern California VIPs as headliners.

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College admission may get easier as ranks of high school graduates drop

Santa Monica College

High school graduates will face less competition for college admission in the next decade due to a demographic decline in their ranks, according to a report on education enrollment trends released Wednesday.

At the same time, Latinos and Asian Americans will constitute larger shares of high school populations and the numbers of white and black students will drop.

“Over the last two decades, colleges and universities have been able to count on an annually growing number of students graduating from the nation’s high schools. But it appears that period of abundance will soon be history,” said the study, Knocking at the College Door, issued by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.

Postsecondary campuses will have to recruit more heavily, possibly reaching beyond typical geographic territories and turning to older adults and other nontraditional populations, the report said.

The number of high school graduates increased nationally for a decade, peaking at 3.4 million in 2010-11, but then lower birth rates and less immigration contributed to a decline. Estimates show 3.21 million graduates are expected in 2013-2014, according to the report. Then it projects small ups and downs until 2023-24, when high school graduates will reach 3.4 million again.

The effect will be uneven across the country. The Northeast and Midwest will experience the largest declines, with smaller ones in the West and some growth in the South, particularly in Texas and Georgia, the study found.

In California, the ranks of high school graduates peaked two years ago at 430,292 and is expected to be 408,467 in 2012-13. Possibly easing enrollment pressures at state colleges and universities, a general decline will follow to a low of 384,600 projected in 2019-2020. The state will then see some modest growth for the next five years but the ranks of its new high school graduates will remain well below the peak.

The study anticipates that 45% of nation’s public high school students will be non-white by 2019-20, compared to 38% in 2009. In that period, the annual numbers of Latino graduates from public high schools will rise 41% and Asian-Pacific Islanders will be up 30% while whites decline 12% and blacks 9%, according to the study.

Colleges and universities should review their recruitment, financial aid and student support policies for a more ethnically diverse future, the report suggested. Higher education must “address the fact that systems, policies and practices designed for an earlier, more racially/ethnically homogenous era will not suffice.”

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Photo: Students wait in line for financial aid at Santa Monica College campus in September. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

More than 1 in 5 California children live in poverty, study finds

As California diversifies, it will face serious economic struggles if it fails to pay attention to widespread childhood poverty, according to a report released Monday by the Center for the Next Generation. The center found that more than 1 in 5 children in the state are living in poverty.

The study, "Prosperity Threatened: Perspectives on Childhood Poverty in California," focuses on new U.S. Census Bureau figures, finding that childhood poverty is endemic among the state’s fastest-growing population -- Latinos -- with nearly 1 in 3 Latino children living at or below the poverty line.

Researchers contrasted the numbers with data on seniors, which showed fewer than 1 in 10 living in poverty.

“We can’t honestly separate our state’s economic future from current poverty rates among our kids,” said Ann O’Leary, vice president and director of the center, who co-wrote the report. “Our ability to thrive as the world’s ninth-largest economy depends on having an educated, healthy and stable next generation of workers.

"We’re headed in the opposite direction,” she added.

The study, which was funded by the center, details a trend of increased childhood poverty in California that accelerated during the recession. And while childhood poverty fell in five California counties between 2006 and 2011, 16 counties saw a reduction in senior poverty during the same period.

Los Angeles County, with more than 9.6 million people, is home to nearly 2.4 million children -- more than 17% of whom live in poverty, according to the study.

Of 51 counties studied, L.A. County ranked 22nd in terms of poverty rate.

In Orange County, slightly more than 16% of the children live at or below the poverty line, according to the study.

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Homeless population declines in L.A. County, U.S. says

Photo: A homeless man on Skid Row on Dec. 11. Credit: Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

A report released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development shows a decrease in the overall homeless population in Los Angeles County, and a more marked decrease in the number of homeless veterans.

The recently released report, which is based on point-in-time estimates from counts conducted on a single night in January 2012, found that Los Angeles' total homeless population had dropped by 6.8% from the previous year, while the number of homeless nationwide had held steady.

The number of estimated homeless veterans in Los Angeles had decreased by 22%, from 8,131 to 6,371, the largest drop in any major city surveyed. The change represented a continuation of a downward trend over the last several years.

Bill Daniels, chief of mental health at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, credited a variety of programs -- and more aggressive outreach to chronically homeless veterans -- with helping to reduce the number of veterans living on the streets in Los Angeles.

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Los Angeles County population tops 9.9 million, 26% of state

Population

More than one in four Californians lives within Los Angeles County, according to new numbers from the state Department of Finance.

The county’s population grew by nearly 51,000 residents over the last year. In all, more than 9.9 million people now live in Los Angeles County, accounting for more than 26% of California's population.

The state’s overall population is now more than 37.8 million, an increase of about 256,000 people since 2011, according to the report.

But more people are moving out of the state than moving in, the numbers show. There were approximately 503,000 births and 234,000 deaths in California between July 2011 and July 2012, a net increase of 269,000 people. That means about 14,000 more people moved out of the state than relocated to California.

Five California counties saw population growth of more than 1%: Placer, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Riverside and San Benito.

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Photo: L.A. County's population is now more than 9.9 million, according to new figures from the state Department of Finance. Credit: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

First Vietnamese American mayor of Westminster sworn in

Tri Ta hugs former Mayor Margie L. Rice after being sworn in as the first Vietnamese American mayor of Westminster. Ta was joined in the ceremony by his family. Credit: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times

Bankers, laborers, teachers and lawyers, many of them immigrants, were among the crowd that swarmed Westminster City Hall to witness the swearing-in of the first Vietnamese American mayor of the city, birthplace of Little Saigon.

A diverse group of about 200 packed the Westminster City Council meeting, with plenty of Asian and Latino faces cheering for Tri Ta when he took the oath of office Wednesday night standing next to his wife and daughters.

Police turned some guests away, telling them to listen through the speakers set up outside.

"I believe he will bring a lot of new ideas to us," said former Mayor Kathy Buchoz, who served in the 1980s. "He deserves it. He's worked hard for it. I think he has integrity. And it's about time."

Solemnly, the new mayor thanked the crowd -- which bore flowers, flags and cellphones to snap souvenir photos -- for their support. Ta then introduced his extended family, including his parents who he said care for his two children "every weekend so I can have more time to attend events."

Ta, a mountain climber and magazine editor, was elected to the council six years ago. He's passionate about philosophy and how masters like Plato push the idea of being a good citizen as a prelude to learning about leadership.

"His winning will inspire people in all ethnic communities to take a closer look at politics, to join the action," says Joseph Pak, a Korean American activist. "It's really exciting and you can expect that everyone will watch him closely."

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About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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