Irvine, Calif., June 6, 2012 – Orange County has powered Southern California's economic engine for the past two decades with the greatest job growth, highest median home values and lowest unemployment rates in the region, according to a report to be released next week by UC Irvine.
The hub of employment in Orange County is unquestionably the Irvine area (including Irvine, Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, San Joaquin Hills and Newport Coast), which also boasts the lowest average commute time in the county. The study notes that available jobs combined with nearby, mixed housing has resulted in safer neighborhoods with stronger home values.
The inaugural Southern California Regional Progress Report was prepared by researchers with the School of Social Ecology's Metropolitan Futures Initiative, which aims to build a base of knowledge to guide policymakers in improving the overall quality of life in the Southland.
Five faculty members, 10 graduate students and six undergraduates collected data from 14 sources on the region's demographic, social, and economic landscape. It allows for systematic statistical analyses at the county, city, neighborhood and street-block levels.
The report draws on this unprecedented data set to examine the interrelationships among such community factors as racial/ethnic demographics, employment and economic welfare, housing density and availability, crime and public safety, and land use.
It's intended to serve as a catalyst for evidence-based dialogue that will inform planning for the future. Subsequent biennial reports will continue to monitor trends and expand the domain of coverage to include, for example, health and welfare.
UCI Chancellor Michael Drake will host a breakfast event to release and discuss the Metropolitan Futures Initiative report on Thursday, June 14, at the UCI Student Center.
"This inaugural study provides a wealth of findings on the area's changing landscape – findings that constitute crucial considerations for successfully planning a future with healthy, sustainable, affordable, safe, economically vibrant and just communities in which residents enjoy the many benefits of Southern California," said Valerie Jenness, dean of UCI's School of Social Ecology.
"These reports will provide policymakers, businesses, residents and others with essential information and thoughtful analyses about our region for years to come."
The soon-to-be-released study examines data from the past 50 years to paint a broad yet incisive picture of Southern California. Researchers compiled the data in metropolitan clusters by grouping together cities that are geographically close and socially similar. Among the findings:
"A number of findings took us by surprise," said John Hipp, associate professor of criminology, law & society who led the team of researchers behind the Southern California Regional Progress Report. "We're looking forward to more extensively analyzing the data to better understand many of the changes that have shaped the region over time."
About the Metropolitan Futures Initiative: The Metropolitan Futures Initiative aims to develop an improved understanding of communities and their potential for integrative and collaborative planning and action to ensure a bright future for the region. With initial focus on Orange County and its location within the larger Southern California area, the Metropolitan Futures Initiative is a commitment to build communities that are economically vibrant, environmentally sustainable and socially just by partnering the UCI School of Social Ecology's world-class, boundary-crossing scholarship with regional expertise.
About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UCI is among the most dynamic campuses in the University of California system, with nearly 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,000 staff. Orange County's second-largest employer, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $4 billion. For more UCI news, visit www.today.uci.edu.
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