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Entrepreneurship among California’s Low-Skilled Workers

By Magnus Lofstrom

The number of self-employed in California has grown considerably over the last three decades. Those with a high-school diploma or less—the low-skilled—make up a significant portion of this growth. Is business ownership a stable and financially rewarding option for them? This report explores this group of entrepreneurs and finds most low-skilled business owners have lower annual earnings than do low-skilled wage-earners—despite working more hours per week.


Does Broadband Boost Local Economic Development?

By Jed Kolko

The federal government and the state of California, as well as other states throughout the nation, have made universal access to broadband service a public policy goal, assuming that multiple economic and social benefits will accrue from increasing broadband access. This study assesses whether policies designed to increase broadband availability—especially to unserved and underserved communities—will contribute to local economic development. It finds a positive relationship between broadband expansion and employment growth, but the benefits for local residents are ambiguous.

This report was supported with funding from The David A. Coulter Family Foundation.


Do California’s Enterprise Zones Create Jobs?

By David Neumark, Jed Kolko

California’s enterprise zone program was established to spur business and job creation in economically distressed areas. Offering tax credits and other incentives to businesses throughout the state, it is California’s largest economic development program. But does it work? This report finds that enterprise zones have no overall effect on job growth. There are some positive findings: for example, the program raises employment more in zones with smaller manufacturing shares, and marketing and outreach efforts seem to be helpful. But the report’s main finding calls into question the wisdom of investing in the program as it stands.


Economic Development: The Local Perspective

By Max Neiman, Daniel Krimm

Since Proposition 13 in 1978 restricted property tax income, California’s local governments have increased their economic development activities, especially in the areas of land development and retail sales. Such measures have provoked criticism, but local officials say they have few alternatives. This paper presents a detailed survey of local economic development policies and activities. It includes assessments of their successes and failures by local officials. The results show that significant barriers to local economic activity exist, among them an inadequate state transportation infrastructure, high energy costs, and lack of an appropriately trained workforce.


California’s Future Workforce: Will There Be Enough College Graduates?

By Deborah Reed

Over the past several decades, the demand in California for college-educated workers has grown. But the supply of college graduates has not kept pace with demand, and it appears that this “workforce skills gap” will not only continue but widen. This study examines the causes, magnitude, and likely consequences of the potential mismatch between the level of education the future population is likely to possess and the level of education demanded by the future economy. The author concludes that if current trends continue, California will experience a serious shortfall of college graduates by 2025, unable to meet its needs even through the migration of college graduates from other states.

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