Hidden in Plain Sight: Why California’s Economically Challenged Cities Matter

How To, Guide, or Manual National Resource Network November 18, 2015 Economic Development

Nearly 12 million Californians live in an economically challenged city — that’s equal to the entire population of the state of Ohio — and a quarter of all challenged cities in the country are in California. In Hidden in Plain Sight: Why California’s Economically Challenged Cities Matter, the National Resource Network’s explores the critical role these cities play in the state’s economy and describe their potential to become significant catalysts for further economic growth if challenges are overcome.

Already, these cities have the ingredients to turn their economies around. They are growing faster than other cities in California, spurred by immigration and the presence of medical centers, major universities and other economic assets. They are more racially diverse and younger than the rest of the state. In spite of their struggles, they already create more than $1 trillion in GDP annually and are home to more than 4.6 million jobs.

But far fewer of these cities’ residents are college educated, and on average, they earn 60 percent less than residents in other cities. This report illustrates why it is important for elected officials and policymakers to work with the leadership in these cities to make the most of resources that can improve their economies and their residents’ quality of life. Understanding, identifying and then overcoming the economic barriers in California’s cities is vital to our nation and, most of all, to the 12 million people who live there.

This report was released at an event at the USC Price School on November 18, 2015. Bob Shrum, Carmen H. and Louis Warschaw Chair in Practical Politics and Professor of the Practice of Political Science at USC, moderated a panel that included Aja Brown, Mayor of Compton; Mercedes Márquez, former Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles; David Chiu, CA State Assemblymember; and Raphael Bostic, Sol Price School of Public Policy at the USC. Antonio Villaraigosa, former Mayor of Los Angeles, gave the closing remarks. Watch highlights from the discussion below and check out this great article by the Sacramento Bee.


Hidden in Plain Sight: Why California’s Economically Challenged Cities Matter