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Orange County

Date Published

OC COE Refreshes Sector Analysis Project With New Labor Market Data

The Orange County Center of Excellence has refreshed the Orange County Sector Analysis Project (OCSAP) with current labor market demand, supply, and wage data that accounts for the rapid changes in the labor market after the COVID-19-induced economic recession. 

Originally published in 2019, OCSAP is a mixed-methods study examining middle-skill occupations within Orange County’s eight priority sectors. Quantitative labor market data was combined with qualitative data from focus groups with community college stakeholders to understand and identify labor supply gaps, as well as discuss institutional and regional challenges to closing these gaps. 

OCSAP identified two types of jobs: top middle-skill and most potential opportunity. Though there is significant demand for both types of jobs, top middle-skill jobs have entry-level wages above the county’s living wage, while most potential opportunity jobs do not.

Since 2019, there has been an unprecedented economic recession, a significant increase in the cost of living and the living wage, and changes to the federal classification system for occupations. The OCSAP 2021 data refresh accounts for these changes and shows that supply gaps for the county’s priority sectors continues to persist. 

Additionally, entry-level hourly earnings have not kept pace with the rapid increase in the cost of living throughout the county. Compared to the 2019 version of OCSAP, the living wage increased 18.6% from $17.39 to $20.63 while average entry-level wages for middle-skill occupations increased only 9%. 

Consequently, there are fewer top middle-skill jobs and more most potential opportunity jobs in the OCSAP 2021 data refresh. However, a large percentage of most potential opportunity jobs have median wages above the living wage and can serve as pathway occupations to top middle-skill jobs. 

OCSAP has been used to inform the Orange County Regional Plan, Comprehensive Local Needs Assessments (CLNA) for Perkins V, regional and local Strong Workforce Program (SWP) planning, and more. Orange County’s community colleges are encouraged to use the updated version of OCSAP whenever they require regional labor market information. 

To access the OCSAP 2021 Sector Briefs and Sector Profiles, visit the OCSAP 2021 collection