Economy

L.A.'s middle class is gone. How do we rebuild it?

L.A.'s middle class is gone. How do we rebuild it?

Of all the problems besetting Los Angeles, the most fundamental is this: It doesn't have much of a middle class.

Like the nation as a whole, only more so, L.A.'s economy has morphed over the last half-century from one that featured widespread prosperity to one in which the pay is too damn low and the rent is too damn high. That was the conclusion of the real-estate website Zillow, which determined that L.A. ranked first among the 35 largest American cities last year in the percentage of income that residents with median-income levels had to pay, on average, for rent (49%; the national average was just 30%). Millions of Angelenos can barely afford to be Angelenos.

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