Downtown Los Angeles
Much new business growth is concentrated near – but not in – large metropolitan areas like downtown Los Angeles, according to a recent Metropolitan Futures Initiative report by John Hipp, MFI director and UCI professor of criminology, law & society.

Irvine, Calif., July 12, 2016 – The University of California, Irvine has released two new regional research reports that reveal a majority of jobs and job growth continue to exist outside traditional downtown venues. They also show that employment surges and declines, known as business churning, has a positive impact on some areas and a negative impact on others.

Produced through the Metropolitan Futures Initiative in UCI’s School of Social Ecology, the quarterly reports are Detecting Job Density Over Time, which shares insights on employment concentration in Southern California, and Understanding Business Churning Dynamics & Their Spatial Variation, which sheds light on the effect of business churning across the Southland based on industrial composition, business climate and other socio-economic factors.

“These reports are meant to serve as a catalyst for policymakers, urban planners and businesses as they prepare for the future,” said John Hipp, director of the MFI and professor of criminology, law & society at UCI. “There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to development. Centers of economic activity vary across Southern California in terms of their specialty and spatial movement over time. What works in Irvine might not work in Oxnard, for example. These reports uncover those nuances and emerging trends.”

Researchers utilized geographic statistical methods to identify regional employment hubs and traced their evolution between 1997 and 2014 using Reference USA data on the precise location of business establishments.

Among the findings of the job density study:

  • Industrial employment shows a surprising trend toward concentration.
  • While growth in employment centers outpaces growth overall, the vast majority of new jobs created between 1997 and 2014 lie outside downtown areas.
  • Non-downtown locales with expanding employment are closer to freeways, airports, rail lines, downtown Los Angeles and the coast.
  • Unlike regions that have more traditional downtowns, Southern California is complex, with more than 40 employment centers distinct in their location, industrial composition and vibrancy.
  • Business services (including finance, professional, technical and information) remain an important component of stable employment centers, though overall, business services are decreasingly found in areas of high job density.

Notable conclusions from the business churning report, which also covers 1997 to 2014, include:

  • Although it can have negative consequences for some neighborhoods, business churning actually seems beneficial for others.
  • Business churning leads to job growth for neighborhoods on the region’s fringes but causes employment declines in the heavily populated coastal portion of Los Angeles County.
  • Whereas business churning near the large employment centers of Irvine and West Los Angeles tends to have a positive impact on home values, it has an adverse effect in South Central and East L.A.

To provide further insight on the findings and to answer questions, the MFI research team will host a webinar on Tuesday, Aug. 9, at 11 a.m. Pacific time. To RSVP, go to

The UCI School of Social Ecology’s Metropolitan Futures Initiative aims to build a base of knowledge to guide policymakers in improving the overall quality of life in the Southland. The school is dedicated to interdisciplinary, problem-driven scholarship, teaching and outreach in the public interest. Its expertise has made it a national leader in applying basic theory and empirical research to complex societal issues. For more information on the MFI, visit

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 30,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit

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