Sep 27 2019

2019-20 OC Community Indicators Report Details Countywide Successes and Challenges

Orange County outperforms peer regions in areas such as educational attainment and employment, according to the 2019-20 Orange County Community Indicators Report released on September 19; however, issues such as affordable housing and homelessness still plague the area.

Presented by Dr. Wallace Walrod, OCBC’s Chief Economic Advisor, the report was unveiled to over 200 attendees at OCBC’s 2019 Community Indicators Summit, sponsored by Bank of America, at Hotel Irvine. Dr. Walrod was joined in discussion of the report by a panel of experts moderated by Steve Churm of FivePoint Holdings, including: Chris Schwartz, Faculty Director for the Center for Investment and Wealth Management at University California, Irvine; Marvin Martinez, Chancellor for the Rancho Santiago Community College District; Kim Cripe, President and CEO of CHOC Children’s; and Todd Harmonson, Senior Editor of Orange County Register.

According to the report findings, Orange County is an economic powerhouse with low unemployment, yet more than 570,000 workers commute in from neighborhood counties – about 167,000 more than the number commuting out of county for jobs.

In addition, the report notes that 12.1% of Orange County residents live in poverty, and 16.4% of the county’s children live in poverty. The number of homeless residents living on the streets has also increased – from 53% since 2017, with the latest homeless count including 9980 children.

The county is also aging and younger residents are increasingly leaving for a more affordable lifestyle, with the county experiencing a net loss of 7,111 millenials in 2017 according to U.S. Census data.

Despite these stark figures, the panelists – representing leaders from housing, health, economic, education and news industry sectors – remained optimistic about the county’s ability to address and solve these problems. “The future is bright for Orange County,” said Kim Cripe, President and CEO of CHOC Children’s. “Organizations like OCBC and events like this provide awareness of these issues, and we as a county are willing and uniquely able to address them.”  

Dr. Walrod reiterated this optimistic stance, yet emphasized the challenges still needing to be addressed for the county to continue its upward trajectory.

“When I look at Orange County, the economy is about as good as it’s going to get,” said Dr. Walrod. “The economy is firing on all cylinders right now. Orange County is the economic engine for all Southern California.”

“We’ve been losing (young adult workers) over time, but it’s accelerated in the last 10 years,” Walrod added. “We are rapidly becoming an older county,” Walrod said. “Unless we figure out how to do a better job of providing workforce housing, all of the other issues are going to get worse.”

Now in its 20th year of publication, the report was a contributive effort from report partners: Orange County Business Council,
First 5 Orange County, Orange County United Way, CalOptima and the Orange County Community Foundation. 

To read the OC Register article on the report, CLICK HERE.

For more information on the Community Indicators Report, please visit Community Indicators Report.

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