Inland Empire

By Neil Nisperos, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Posted: 10/29/14, 5:01 PM PDT | Updated: 4 mins ago

ONTARIO >> While the Inland Empire economy continues on the upswing, the growth of high-paying jobs and quality firms continues to be hindered by educational attainment levels.

That was the message Wednesday from regional economists to business leaders at the fifth annual Inland Empire Economic Forecast Conference at Citizens Business Bank Arena.

Keynote speakers Manfred Keil, associate professor of economics at the Robert Day School of Economics and Finance at Claremont McKenna College, and Edward Leamer, economics professor at UCLA and director of the UCLA Anderson Forecast, said the key to bringing higher paying firms to the Inland Empire will be to increase the number of educated and qualified people in the job market.

According to John Husing, chief economist for the Inland Empire Economic Partnership, the share of people who have a bachelor’s degree or higher in the Inland Empire is 20.1 percent, compared with 30.1 percent in Los Angeles County, and 37.1 percent in Orange County.

“We have to make the area attractive to businesses to come here,” Keil said, “and I think the only way to do this is to have a better educated labor force that will be highly productive.”

Leamer agreed.

“Workforce development in our view is the key to the problems that the nation and the Inland Empire has,” Leamer said, “and we’ve been asleep at the switch as a nation for a couple of decades in letting our workforce development — meaning preschool, K-12, college and on-the-job training — we’ve allowed to deteriorate.

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