November 23, 2014 11:54 UTC

As It Is

California Helps Lead Economic Recovery

California's farming industry helps feed the nation.
California's farming industry helps feed the nation.

Multimedia

Play or download an MP3 of this story
 

Hello again, and welcome.  I’m Jim Tedder in Washington.  Today’s As It Is program is different.  Usually we take you around the world to hear about interesting people, places, and things.  But today we are staying closer to home.  You could call it an “all American” show.  First we will talk about money, jobs, and the economy.  It seems that one western state has been doing a bit better than others.  We will hear why California is the place to be.
 
Then, we will make stop in Houston, Texas, to hear about some young people who have been chosen to help the city grow and prosper.  And near the end of the program, some silliness, and just a touch of classic rock and roll music.  As It Is …helping you to learn English by way of your radio and computer.
 
The American economy is slowly improving from the recession of 2008 and 2009. Industries like construction and building repair are doing well. Unemployment, however, remains high throughout the United States. From state to state, the economic recovery appears uneven. But California is growing at a rate above the national average.
 
Rosalie Andersen is a real estate agent. Her job is to help people buy and sell homes. Today, she is attempting to sell a white house made of stucco in a quiet Los Angeles neighborhood. She hopes this house will sell for more than a million dollars. She says the housing market is getting better.  
 
“It’s kind of puzzling. We talk in the office, and we’re just wondering:  Where are these people getting all this cash from? But I think what a lot of people are doing is that they’re finally realizing that your best investment for money is a home.”
 
Last year, the California economy grew at rate of three-point-five percent. That is a full percentage point above the national average. But the growth rate differs from place to place.
 
Robert Kleinhenz is an economist with the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation. He says California’s ports are busier than other ports.
 
“We’re still well below the pre-recession peak levels of port activity that we had seen in 2007. We’ve seen some slight gains with each passing year. But there still is a ways to go.”
 
In downtown Los Angeles, the Chinese immigrant owner of a small business says he is doing well. His store sells t-shirts and slippers -- footwear normally worn around the house. Nearby, Henry Wong sells low-cost decorations and cloth imported from China. Mr. Wong says the cost to operate his business is low. When the economy is not good, he says, he and his employees work harder. Currently, Mr. Wong is doing well. He has six workers in his store, and more working in a building where the goods are stored.
                                                                          
 
High-technology companies are helping the American economy. But even in Silicon Valley, California’s high-technology center, the situation is mixed. Cisco Systems has reported good sales, but is cutting 4,000 jobs. The company says it is reacting to a changing market. Banking and professional services are doing well. The recreation and hospitality industry is expanding, adding jobs to hotels and visitor services.
 
California’s $44 billion farming industry helps feed the nation and is growing. The state’s unemployment rate is 8.7 percent, down from over 12 percent three years ago. The national unemployment rate is 7.4 and improving. But Mr. Kleinhenz says the numbers are not what they should be. 

“The unemployment rate has been coming down. GDP (Gross Domestic Product) has been growing. The problem is, they continue to tell us that the economy is growing at a slower pace than we would really like to see.”
 
 
Houston Looks for Young Leaders
 
 
The Greater Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation recently held a graduation ceremony for 34 young adults who completed its Emerging Leaders Institute. The program’s purpose is to increase their skills -- and their confidence that they can help the future of this busy city in the state of Texas.  Christopher Cruise tells us more.
 
Participants in the program are students, or those who recently completed their studies at a university in the Houston area. 
Most graduates of the Houston Emerging Leaders Institute are Hispanic, but others also take part. Huyen Do is a good example.  She says she is ready to be a leader.
 
The program includes business leaders and civil engineers, biologists, bankers and politicians.  Laura Murillo leads the Greater Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation.  She says the program is aimed at helping make progress in a city that is changing both ethnically and economically.

Shipping industry employs many people in Houston.Shipping industry employs many people in Houston.
x
Shipping industry employs many people in Houston.
Shipping industry employs many people in Houston.

 
"Houston is diverse, in terms of the people who are here, and it is diverse in terms of the careers that are available. So we want to get and identify all those great people out there, put them in this program and prepare them to lead Houston."

 
Program members like Mercedes Sanchez said they learned from working with others in the class of 2013. 
 
"I think that one of the many benefits of having such a diverse group is that you really get to learn from each other, and it enriches the experience that you have."
 
Participant Jo Anna Castilleja works for Shell Oil. She said she needed guidance about the business world because she was the first in her family to complete college.
 
"My parents came from elementary and secondary education, and I needed to ask for help from someone who had that kind of (college) experience."
 
Sonia Gonzalez was one of Miz Castilleja's guides, or mentors.  Miz Gonzalez said the training has produced better workers and citizens.  She noted that the program combined Miz Castilleja's work experience with a wider understanding of what is happening in the city.  And, she said that made her a more valuable employee.
 
 
Although the students have graduated from the program, they may return one day as a mentor to a new young participant.  I’m Christopher Cruise.
 
And I’m Jim Tedder in Washington.  Thank you for spending some time with us on this Thursday, October 9th.   Today is International Top Spinning Day, a day to spin your small wooden toy, and then email the Spinning Top and Yo Yo Museum in Burlington, Wisconsin, to tell them you participated!
 
Today is also the National Bring Your Teddy Bear to Work Day.  After all, the poor little fellow rarely gets out of the house anymore.
 
And American singer and songwriter Jackson Browne is celebrating his 63rd birthday today. 
 
There are more Learning English programs coming your way, and world news at the beginning of every hour on VOA.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Poshih Chiu from: Taiwan, R.O.C.
10/12/2013 1:58 PM
Los Angeles in California is an enjoyable city. Its sunny weather has attracted many people both domestic and foreign to the western port city. There are diverse ethnic groups, which have formed different ethnic communities. A lot of people with different nationalities have been living in this city, and they are the assets and always providing a competitive edge for the city. Its economy might have a little trouble once in a while, but it would always return to a normal development. The City of Flowers and Sunshine is always having a promising future. Believe it or not!


by: Antonio Carlos Zambon from: Campinas-sao paulo-Brazil
10/10/2013 4:52 PM
Congratulations,the best way ,to learn english,thanks VOA


by: BIJU.P.Y. from: SOUTH INDIA
10/10/2013 3:49 PM
It is a lucky sign that America is slowly recovering from her past economic falls. California leads the way is all the more exciting. But it is unfair that the economic situations in many cities stand uneven. Thank you.

Learn with The News

  • Brazil Religion in Latin America

    Audio Latin America Catholics Converting to Protestants

    Almost 40 percent of the world’s Catholic population, or about 425 million people, lives in Latin America. But a recent study from the Pew Research Center says people in Latin America have increasingly lost faith in the Catholic Church. Membership has decreased as much as 20 percent. More

  • This undated handout image provided by Science and the University of Tokyo shows infectious particles of the avian H7N9 virus emerging from a cell.

    Audio What's the Matter?

    From the very big to the very small, everything in our universe is made up of matter. Matter is one of those very hardworking words that you need to master ... no matter what. We will get you to the hear of the matter with this Words and Their Stories. More

  • Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (L) stretches to shake hands with China's President Xi Jinping before a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, November 7, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Lee/POOL

    Audio Cambodian Opposition Criticize Dependence on Chinese Aid

    China’s government recently promised more than $500 million in aid to Cambodia. Cambodian officials say they need about $1 billion in foreign aid each year to operate the government. Opposition members are worried about the country becoming too dependent on aid money from China. More

  • Obama Immigration

    Video Republicans Promise to Fight Obama on Immigration

    Republican Party lawmakers are promising to fight President Barack Obama’s executive order on immigration. The order protects millions of people who have been living in the United States illegally. The president’s announcement immediately angered Republicans in the U.S. Congress. More

  • A worker at state-owned Pertamina, the country's main retailer of subsidised fuel, fills a vehicle at a petrol station in Jakarta November 17, 2014. Indonesia's president raised the price of subsidised gasoline and diesel by more than 30 percent on Monday

    Audio Indonesians Protest Rising Fuel Prices

    Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced the government would cut the financial support on fuel. The move led to a 30 percent increase in fuel overnight. These rising prices have led some public transportation groups to go on strike. The government has had to prepare other forms of transportation. More

Featured Stories

  • Jonathan Evans Performs with Bonerama

    Video With Bonerama, Three Trombones Lead the Big Parade

    The New Orleans-based group brings together funk, rock, blues and jazz, creating a gumbo for the ears. Bonerama has horns like many bands. But, unlike most groups, the trombone players lead this band. Reporter Jonathan Evans performed with the band and wrote about it for American Mosaic. More

  • A line from Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is displayed at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.

    Audio Lincoln's Words at Gettysburg Still Have Meaning

    On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln said no one would remember his speech at a battlefield cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. But Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address remains one of the most important speeches in U.S. history. More

  • PLASTIC DREAMS

    Audio Surgery Safaris: Looking for the Perfect Body

    Many people these days are going as far as South Africa to get their version of perfection. People from across Africa and the world come for so-called “surgery safaris.” There are no animals to see on these safaris. The visitors instead look for smaller stomachs, firmer bottoms or perhaps new eye. More

  • Video South Korea Attempting to Reuse More E-Waste

    South Korea is dealing with increasing amounts of waste from electronic devices. These useless or unwanted parts are often called “e-waste.” . The city of Seoul throws out about 10 tons of e-waste each year. Some local governments in South Korea are creating special "e-waste" recycling programs. More

  • FILE - Brittany Maynard, shown with her Great Dane puppy, Charlie, took a lethal dose of medication prescribed by a doctor in Oregon on Saturday. Maynard was battling brain cancer.

    Video Should You Have the Right to Die?

    The recent case of a 29 year old woman with brain cancer has again raised questions about the right to die. Americans are divided on whether doctors should be able to give deathly sick patients drugs to end their lives. Only four U.S states permit doctor, or physician, assisted suicide. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs