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Good Jobs in the Inland Empire

The Inland Empire (IE) has long been a place of opportunity for many in the Southern California region, ranging from access to affordable housing; to employment and educational opportunities; to recreational areas and to arts, cultural, and community institutions. Anchored by its higher educational institutions, the region has made significant strides in research and commercialization in health, clean technology, geographic information systems, and cybersecurity—areas are poised to usher in significant gains in opportunity for upward mobility. 

The region, however, has also seen significant growth in industries that are largely concentrated around service,  warehousing, and hospitality work, all of which have not traditionally been viewed as “good” jobs. In particular,  the growing workforce that has been concentrated in these industries has experienced a sort of reckoning due to the COVID-19 pandemic with harsh light being shed on these jobs’ low wages, lack of benefits (including paid sick leave), and instability. While the economy is just starting to show signs of long-term recovery as of this report’s publication, there is an opportunity to dig deeper into what this recovery could look like, and how it can address some persistent, and entrenched issues in the region’s employment landscape. It is with this backdrop that this report analyzes the state of good jobs in the Inland Empire, before, though, and after the height of the pandemic.  

The concept of a ‘good job’ universally centers around a  job that provides stable and relatively high compensation to the workers therein. We define good jobs according to earnings, provision of benefits, and weeks and hours of work. It is important to note that the notion of a ‘good job’ should be updated in future research.  With better systematic data collection by government agencies (including measures of injury and turnover, for example), this definition of good jobs can evolve.