Jobs-Rich Cities: Three Potential Frontiers of Economic Development

Unemployment still looms above 2007 levels, and is coupled with the lowest labor force participation in 30 years. Arthur Burris outlines what kinds of strategies cities can adopt to help their local economies.

Despite current rising employment rates throughout the country, less-educated workers have more than double the unemployment (7 percent) as college graduates (3 percent). Indeed, there also exist large racial disparities of unemployment between African-Americans and whites (12.1 percent, 5.7 percent, respectively). In these conditions, cities are vying for ways to create more, and better, jobs for their residents.

From conversations with some of the leading minds in local economic development, Arthur Burris of Living Cities compiled three main principles:

      1. Using "asset-based" approaches, and linking with existing institutions, cultivating clusters, and stepping up export activity.

      2. "Rewiring 'operating systems,'" to realign “relationships, incentives, and resources applied to economic development."

      3. "Increasing the opportunity supply for lower-skilled workers," and shifting towards job dynamic job training and creation.

These three principles do not provide hard lined policy measures, but rather guide city planners into the direction of creating equitable economic policy that would benefit local residents.

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