TITLE: California's Occupational Advantage

AUTHORS: Anne Markusen and Elisa Barbour

PAGES: 116      DATE: May 2003

ABSTRACT: To focus on the contribution of labor to regional economic development, we propose an occupational approach, contrast it with an industrial approach, and present the case for the former. We then show, using highly disaggregated occupational data for 11 California metropolitan areas, how remarkably specialized each region is and how each diverges from the nation. We also present the concept of occupational advantage, which tracks over time the extent to which metropolitan occupations outpace the growth rate of their national counterparts. We show that occupational profiles are not destiny; many metros have disproportionately added jobs in occupations that were previously under-represented, whereas some highly concentrated occupations have lost ground. We further demonstrate that occupational specializations are not dictated by the size of a metropolitan area and are not synonymous with industrial mix. In closing, we make the case for occupational profiling and analysis as economic development tools at the state and regional level.

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