LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The high cost of housing in Los Angeles is making it difficult for Southland businesses to recruit and retain employees, particularly top-level workers, according to a study released today by USC and the Los Angeles Business Council.

According to the report, nearly 60 percent of employers surveyed cited the area's high cost-of-living as a major factor in retaining employees, while 75 percent specifically cited housing costs as a problem spot. The report found that 64 percent of employers address cost-of-living issues when negotiating ``hiring packages'' for high-level employees.

``This study shows that high housing costs are burdening our leading employers, either by having to develop special hiring packages, or subsidizing transportation and relocation costs,'' said Raphael Bostic, a professor at the USC Price School of Public Policy and newly appointed head of the Atlanta Federal Reserve. ``Though we have yet to see a critical mass of businesses priced out of the region, this is an area of concern. There's ample evidence to show that the time is now to implement strategies to reduce housing costs.''

The survey included Los Angeles-area employers who account for nearly 200,000 jobs in a variety of key employment sectors.

The report recommends that businesses examine the possibility of  sponsoring housing projects, and calls for an investment in higher-density housing at a variety of price points near transit centers.

``It's concerning that high housing costs could lead to Los Angeles losing its competitive edge in recruiting top talent. That would be devastating to our economy,'' said Mary Leslie, president of LABC. ``This survey underscores the need to think outside the box and tackle our city's high cost of living problem.''

The report noted that housing costs also negatively affect employees' job satisfaction and productivity, with many forced to endure long commutes.

Nearly all of the employees surveyed reported that more than 25 percent of their employees had commutes of 90 minutes or more.

``This report should be seen as a call to action,'' said Ann Sewill, vice president of housing and economic opportunity of the California Community Foundation. ``We need to do all that we can to increase people's access to

affordable housing by incentivizing new affordable housing and preserving existing stock.''

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