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Press Release · April 9, 2008

Inland Empire: Growth Will Slow, Challenges Will Not

Demographic Projections for 2015 Indicate Potential Problems for Region in Employment, Educational Attainment, and Civic Participation

SAN FRANCISCO, California, April 9, 2008 — By 2015, the population of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties will grow to 4.9 million. About a million more people will live there than in 2005. Although this rate of population growth will be slower than in the past, the Inland Empire will retain its status as the fastest-growing region in Southern California.

A new report released today by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), with funding from The James Irvine Foundation, examines the likely economic and demographic trends of the region out to 2015. The report notes that the primary driver of the dynamic population growth in the Inland Empire will be migration from other California counties.

But the report’s demographic projections also foreshadow potential problems – for example, a possible mismatch between employment opportunities and the educational attainment of the population, and between the share of residents who make up the majority of the population and those who participate actively in voting and civic affairs.

The new report, The Inland Empire in 2015, finds that:

  • Between 2004 and 2015, the number of jobs in the Inland Empire is expected to grow 28 percent, outpacing job growth statewide (20%). But population gains will outstrip job gains, and this suggests that the share of workers who commute out of the region (20% in 2005) will remain high.
  • Unlike the rest of California, the demand for jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree (20.3%) in the region will equal the share of adults who have that qualification (20.6%). But the share of Inland Empire adults with less than a high school diploma (22.1%) will exceed the share of jobs available for workers at that education level (17.7%).
  • Although no single ethnic group today holds a majority in the Inland Empire’s population, Latinos will constitute a majority (51.2%) of the region’s population by 2015. But Latinos may not have their voices heard as clearly as they could be, because the plurality (48%) of registered voters will be white, even though whites will constitute only about one-third (35%) of the adult population.

“In many ways, the future of the Inland Empire is now,” said PPIC research fellow Hans Johnson, a co-author of the study. “Policymakers and community leaders must face tough decisions today if the region is to achieve the bright future it looks forward to, rather than a future that simply happens to it. Sustained efforts focusing on economic development, workforce training, and broader political participation are essential.”


Hans Johnson is a senior fellow and an associate director of research at the Public Policy Institute of California. Deborah Reed is director of research and a senior fellow at PPIC, where she holds the Thomas C. Sutton Chair in Policy Research. Joseph Hayes is a research associate at PPIC.


The Public Policy Institute of California is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to informing and improving public policy in California through independent, objective, nonpartisan research on major economic, social, and political issues. The institute was established in 1994 with an endowment from William R. Hewlett. PPIC does not take or support positions on any ballot measure or on any local, state, or federal legislation, nor does it endorse, support, or oppose any political parties or candidates for public office.