Analysis of occupations: About 225,000 new jobs are expected to be added to the local economy between 2006 and 2016, and those individual occupations with the highest increases are retail salespersons; waiters and waitresses; cashiers; and customer service representatives. But in terms of percentage increases, the fastest growth should occur in network systems and data communications analysts, with a nearly 52 percent uptick; home health aides, 46 percent; and occupational therapists, 45.5 percent.
"These statistics highlight the dominance of retail and sales jobs ... as well as the rapid growth of health-care jobs in the future," according to the report.
But the report says the region's high cost of living and large number of lower-paying jobs are concerns for work force development professionals. It suggests providing training in these areas so workers can develop greater skills and hopefully gain higher positions in the industry.
Home purchasing and rental affordability: This measures the ability of different wage workers to buy homes in the region. The report makes note that though the region has "sufficient" work force housing and still has a strong competitive home purchasing power of wages when compared to similar economies, it is still among the costliest places to buy a home, despite the recent drops in prices.
O.C.'s median home price declined 7 percent between July '08 and '09, according to the report. But families of four making the median income – $86,100 – are still not able to buy average-priced homes in the region. Yet, the report says the recent declines are "necessary in order to begin closing the gap between home prices and household incomes."
The report also studies the work force supply and demand in regard to high schools and colleges. Among the key points:
O.C.'s students – from kindergarten to 12th grade – are becoming increasingly tech-savvy. It is necessary to incorporate technology into schools early on, according to the report, because of the region's "innovation-driven economy."
"If Orange County schools fail to integrate technology effectively in our education curriculum, both businesses and students will be at a competitive advantage."
The data is based on a poll of more than 281,000 students and teachers nationwide, and local students reported using technology for writing assignments, research and projects, among other uses. Yet many students said rules against the use of technology, filters and slow Internet connections often posed challenges.