Newsletter: California Inc.: A tough job market for recent college grads

Welcome to California Inc., the weekly newsletter of the L.A. Times Business Section.

I’m Business columnist David Lazarus, and here’s a rundown of upcoming stories this week and the highlights of last week.

A trade war with China erupted Friday. Retailers immediately started fretting that this would mess up supply chains for the holiday season. A senior exec at the National Retail Federation said the dispute could lead to “higher prices, a cut into consumer spending and a cut into consumer confidence.” He added, “We are very concerned about it.”



The place to be: The annual Allen & Co. investment conference begins Tuesday in Sun Valley, Idaho. Likely attendees include Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Apple’s Tim Cook, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Disney’s Bob Iger, the Murdoch clan of Fox, Comcast’s Brian Roberts, CBS’ Leslie Moonves and Viacom and CBS controlling shareholder Shari Redstone.

Inflation check: The Labor Department is expected to report Thursday that inflation held steady in June, with the consumer price index increasing 0.2%. The 12-month rate is expected to tick up to 2.9%. Federal Reserve policymakers are watching inflation measures closely as they decide whether the economy needs additional rate hikes to avoid overheating.

Jobless claims: Weekly jobless claims will be released Thursday. Last week, we learned that the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose, but the trend in jobless claims continued to point to tightening labor market conditions.

Wells Fargo earnings: Wells Fargo & Co. will report second-quarter earnings Friday, giving investors a look at how the financial giant is coping with a growth cap mandated earlier this year by the Federal Reserve in response to the bank’s numerous misdeeds.

High hopes: Universal and Legendary Pictures’ new big-budget action movie “Skyscraper,” which totally isn’t a remake of “Die Hard,” will test the box office muscle of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson when it hits U.S. theaters Friday. It’s expected to open to $35 million.


Monday’s Business section looks at the job market for college grads. Although jobs reports show low unemployment and growing payrolls, the gigs available aren’t necessarily good ones, and many new college graduates find themselves settling for less than they bargained for. Nearly 43% of recent college graduates are underemployed — that is, working in jobs that don’t require a college degree.


Here are some of the other stories that ran in the Times Business section in recent days that we’re continuing to follow:

Trade war: The trade war between the world’s two biggest economies could upset the global economy, threaten U.S. exports to China and force American consumers to pay higher prices for some Chinese-made goods. Here’s a look at some of the key issues in the dispute.

Solar panels: A 30% U.S. tariff on imported solar panels put in place last winter should have caused prices here to jump. But when tariffs are unleashed, as businesses are learning, things don’t always go as expected.

Labor shortage: Amid a farm labor shortage, growers have been offering sharply higher wages, while some offer subsidized housing, contributions to 401(k) savings plans and similar perks unheard of in the days of Cesar Chavez, who was jailed in Salinas during the often-violent lettuce boycotts of the 1970s.

No credit? People who plunked down $1,000 to reserve a Tesla Model 3 electric sedan are increasingly worried that they may not get a $7,500 federal tax credit that was key to the purchase decision.

Hot enough for you: It’s still hot out. Utility representatives say adequate electricity supplies have been secured. “Our crews are ready to respond to incidents that may occur due to this record heat wave,” said the grid operations director for Southern California Edison.


And some recent stories from other publications that caught our eye:

Bye, Scott: They won’t miss Scott Pruitt in the Corn Belt. The Wall Street Journal says the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, who resigned last week, “had tweaked a set of regulations worth tens of billions of dollars annually” to farmers.

Basic income: The New Yorker casts its eye at the renewed debate over universal basic income. “The questions that surround it are the same ones that Nixon faced half a century ago. Will the public stand for such a bold measure — and, if so, could it ever work?”

Hot wheels: Looking for a Tour de France-level bike? Bloomberg says it’ll run you about $12,000. “Manufacturers are putting their most prominent riders on disc-brake-equipped aero bikes with fully integrated cockpits.”

Tight squeeze: Think airplane seats are too small? Tough, says the Federal Aviation Administration. As the New York Times reports, the agency believes “that seat width and pitch, even in combination with increasing passenger size, do not hamper the speed of an evacuation.”

Come fly with me: From the Atlantic, a recounting of that tale about two people who met on an airplane and had their courtship shared by others in real time via social media. “Nothing in American culture — not even delight, not even coincidence, not even love — is safe from the gravitational forces of commodification.”


Wired brings us a video encounter with Dr. Nathan Smith, associate curator in the Dinosaur Institute at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, who helpfully tells us about most of the dinosaurs that appear in the “Jurassic Park” films.

For the latest money news, go to Mad props to Laurence Darmiento and Scott J. Wilson for helping put this thing together.

Until next time, I’ll see you in the Business section.