OC Model: A Vision for Orange County’s Future

This is the introduction to a new report on Orange County published by the Chapman University Center for Demographics and Policy, titled “OC Model: A Vision for Orange County’s Future.” Read the full report (pdf) here.

Blessed by a great climate and a highly skilled workforce, Orange County should be at the forefront of creating high wage jobs. The fact that it is not should be a worrying sign to the area’s business, academic, political and media leaders. Despite some signs of recovery in OC, long-term trends, such as a dependence on asset inflation and low wage employment, seem fundamentally incompatible with sustainable and enduring growth in the County.

To be sure, asset inflation benefits established property owners, and those who work in the real estate sector, but the surge in property prices and an ever increasing number of touristic venues does not provide enough of a viable base for coming generations. Given the area’s high costs — which can at best be mollified — the area’s prosperity depends on building up its cadre of well-paying high value jobs in promising fields as professional business services, technology and design-oriented cultural industries.

The good news: the county retains some strength in all these fields. But many long-term trends, as we will demonstrate below, are not encouraging. Once one of the nation’s most powerful high-end economies, the county is in danger of losing momentum to other markets.

Reversing this trend will require a more holistic assessment of current realities. It also requires a strong, coherent strategy targeted to high-wage growth sectors. Instead of the current obsession with real estate and tourism projects, the County needs to focus more on what professional business services, technology, finance and science-based companies need in order to succeed.

This necessitates a conscious effort, led by the business community, to develop a strategic direction for Orange County. There are a number of models to choose from, ranging from the most successful, Silicon Valley to greater Boston to the North Carolina Research Triangle, and many more. In each case, the growth from established university research centers — Stanford, MIT, Harvard, as well as the University of North Carolina, Duke and North Carolina state — extended from the university’s base to its periphery. This strong cooperation among universities, government and the private sector is critical to the emerging tech and business service corridor developing between the Texas cities of Austin and San Antonio.

Read the full report (pdf) here.

Where Millionaires Are Moving

Appearing in:

Forbes

In this oligarchic era, dominated as never before in modern history by the ultra-rich, their movements are far more than grist for gossip columns. They are critical to the health of city economies around the world.

recent study by the consultancy New World Wealth traces this movement globally, identifying the big winners and losers in millionaire migration. Read more

Coastal California Getting Older, Not Bolder

Appearing in:

Orange County Register

For the better part of a century, Southern California has been seen as the land of surfers, hipsters and youthful innovators. Yet the land of sun and sea is becoming, like its East Coast counterpart Florida, increasingly geriatric.

This, of course, is a global and national phenomenon. Read more

The Sun Belt Is Rising Again, New Census Numbers Show

Appearing in:

Forbes

From 2009-11, Americans seemed to be clustering again in dense cities, to the great excitement urban boosters. The recently released 2015 Census population estimates confirm that was an anomaly. Americans have strongly returned to their decades long pattern of greater suburbanization and migration to Read more

Even as They Retire, it’s Still About the Boomers

Appearing in:

Orange County Register

America’s baby boomers, even as they increasingly enter retirement, continue to dominate our political economy in ways no previous group of elderly has done. Sadly, their impact has also proven toxic, presenting our beleaguered electorate a likely Hobbesian presidential choice between a disliked, and distrusted, political veteran and a billionaire agitator most Americans find scary. Read more

End Of One-Child Policy Is Unlikely To Solve China’s Looming Aging Crisis

Appearing in:

Forbes

By finally backing away from its one-child policy, China would seem to be opening the gates again to demographic expansion. But it may prove an opening that few Chinese embrace, for a host of reasons. Read more

Oil Bust? Bah — North Dakota Is Still Poised To Thrive

Appearing in:

Forbes

Oil and gas companies have the worst public image of any industry in the United States, according to Gallup. But it’s well-loved in a swathe of the U.S. from the northern Plains to the Gulf Coast, where the boom in unconventional energy production has transformed economies Read more

The Cities Americans Are Thronging To And Fleeing

Appearing in:

Forbes

Cities get ranked in numerous ways — by income, hipness, tech-savviness and livability — but there may be nothing more revealing about the shifting fortunes of our largest metropolitan areas than patterns of domestic migration. Read more

Economic Progress is More Effective Than Protests

Appearing in:

The Daily Beast

The election of Barack Obama promised to inaugurate the dawn of a post-racial America. Instead we seem to be stepping ever deeper into a racial quagmire. The past two month saw the violent commemoration of Read more