Understanding Job Creation: Part 1 Place

Introduction

This four-part literature review examines how jobs are created to identify consistent themes, dynamics and determinants that government can apply to develop meaningful policy and initiatives. Part 1 which examines how places create and destroy jobs. It finds that agglomeration is a driving force behind structural change, economies of scale and how places grow and create jobs. Part 2 examines new research into the specific role of industry in job creation, noting that the traded industries bring wealth into an economy that flows through to increase local demand and create new jobs. This effect is known as the job multiplier and the more skilled a traded industry is, the higher the multiplier will be. Part 3 examines the age and size of different business segments to determine which firms have the greatest impact on job creation. It finds that small and young businesses, disproportionality create new jobs. Finally, Part 4 identifies the consistent themes emerging from literature and presents a framework to support government policy and initiatives.

Dynamics and determinants:

Dynamics and determinants (2)

 

PART 1: Place

Geography Matters

Geography matters for the future of job creation, as jobs are becoming increasingly concentrated in certain places (OECD, 2018). In particular, small and rural towns are distinctly shrinking as residents relocate to more prosperous areas such as cities.

As nations become more developed, the economy shifts from agricultural to industrial to service-oriented and to technology automation. With new ways of production focused on the generation of ideas (rather than goods) and economies of scale, fewer workers are required in rural areas where traditional production remained concentrated (World Bank, 2009; OECD 2018). This dynamic is known as structural change and it leads to structural unemployment – the worst type of unemployment. Over time, displaced workers typically shift to labour markets where there are more job opportunities, higher wages and access to retraining (Bivens, 2018). Places that are not able to adapt to changing technology and create new jobs, will begin to decline as they often lack the skill profile to transition their economy (OECD, 2018).

Structural unemployment is a “longer lasting form of unemployment that is caused by fundamental shifts” in an economy caused by factors such as technology, competition and government policy (Kenton, 2018). Due to this shift, workers lack the right skills demanded by their current employer or the local labour market and live too far from other regions where jobs are available (Bivens, 2018; Kenton, 2018).

However, structural change can also be desirable as it can enable an economy to transition from low skill to high-skilled, high-value production. Structural change can facilitate a wave of “creative destruction” which supports productivity improvements at the firm level and drives long-term economic growth and job creation at a macro level. However, early recognition of the opportunities and risks is required to develop a range of innovative initiatives that build economic capacity to respond and restructure (Henry & Medhurst, 2011). Foray (2015) suggests that it is important to look at the aggregation of production in a region to identify where industry and government can work together to shape new opportunities or support the restructuring of industry through new ‘entrepreneurial discoveries’.

Creative destruction “refers to the incessant product and process innovation mechanism by which new production units replace out-dated ones. This restructuring process permeates major aspects of macroeconomic performance, not only long-run growth but also economic fluctuations, structural adjustment and the functioning of factor markets (Caballero, N.D)”.

Why Do People Move?

Larger and denser settlements such as cities offer more diverse and higher paid jobs; and talented people are more able to move to take up opportunities (Florida, 2008). The more educated you are the more able you are to move for work, with 1 in 4 university graduates doing so. While there are personal drawdowns from relocation such as family relationships, most people will earn higher wages, access new networks and other opportunities (Florida, 2008).

In addition, people who move, such as immigrants tend to be more entrepreneurial and are natural risk takers, born out of either choice or need. They are more open to new opportunities, resilient and importantly, they bring their unique perspectives and experience – a winning combination for innovation and venture creation. Wines (2018) notes that “over 40 per cent of firms in the United States (US). Fortune 500 list were founded by immigrants or children of immigrants.” While a United Kingdom (UK) study found that “immigrants are twice as likely to be entrepreneurs” and that “one in five UK tech start-ups is founded by immigrants (Wines, 2018).”

Thus cities become a mixing pot of entrepreneurs, designers and creative people, engineers, financiers, industry professionals and academics – all highly skilled and motivated to share ideas (Florida, 2008). And it is these entrepreneurial people, who create jobs twice as fast as established firms (Wines, 2018).  In combination with the productive advantage that cities offer through production and distribution economies of scale, they are primed to become a “hub for innovation” and an “engine of prosperity” (Duranton, 2012; Moretti, 2012).

The Agglomeration of Jobs

Places that are able to build an economic advantage based on high-value industries become a hotbed for job creation because of the benefits gained from workforce capacity and industry co-location and proximity to markets. These benefits include concentrated and varied infrastructure, strong networks to support market access, increased venture creation, higher wages and an attractive lifestyle and culture through diversity of service offerings (Moretti, 2012). These dynamics form what is known as agglomeration and agglomeration is strongly linked to job growth, high productivity and innovation (Clarke & Xu, 2013; Goswami, Mevedev & Olafsen, 2018; Moretti, 2012).

Agglomeration is derived from the benefits that are gained from co-location and proximity and include:

  • localization – being near other producers of the same commodity or service;
  • urbanization –  being close to producers of a wide range of commodities and services; and
  • capacity – the size of the local market, the national market, access to international markets  (Clarke & Xu, 2013; Glaeser, 2010; World Bank, 2009).

The World Bank’s Comprehensive Worldwide Business Survey found that agglomeration forces were more important to job growth than the overall business environment (Clarke and Xu, 2013). This is not to dismiss the business environment, as elements such as labour regulation, access to finance and local skill levels were also found to be important to business expansion and employment.

Agglomeration is a reinforcing dynamic that generates ‘increasing returns’ through increased concentration of activity, skills and infrastructure. As workers and entrepreneurs are attracted to places because of job opportunities, higher wages, networks and market access, it builds the economic capacity of a place though diversity of skills, increased resources and services, knowledge spillovers and economies of scale (Duranton, 2012). These positive externalities lead to the economy as a whole becoming more productive, innovative and driving up wages. Thereby, continuing to attract more people and increase firm and job creation.

However, agglomeration does not happen automatically and jobs need to be continuously created to address creative destruction, import competition and compensate for the natural the turnover of firm entries and exits (Foray, 2015). Thus, the dynamics of firm and job creation is also shaped by places functionality (Duranton, 2012). According to Polèse (2009) there are seven determinants of agglomeration, these include:

  1. Economies of scale in production and production processes – concentration of production facilities and firms close to their workers and suppliers;
  2. Economies in scale for trade, transportation and distribution facilities – infrastructure that supports more accessible networks and lower unit costs;
  3. Proximity to markets and opportunities to access new market – to enable firm expansion and market growth;
  4. Industrial clusters – benefits that firms receive by being located close to other firms in similar or interconnected industries such as labour pools, specialisations, branding, spillovers;
  5. Diversity – to enable reliance, spillovers and spinoffs;
  6. Centrality – creating a centre and density for trade, collaboration and networking; and
  7. Creativity and culture – innovation and sense of place that draws people to each other.

Skills, Spillovers and Scrabble Theory

While agglomeration draws workers and entrepreneurs together to support productivity, innovation, and firm creation, workers need to have the essential skills and capabilities in the first place to respond to opportunities. Although this relationship has been well understood for a long time, there are many dynamics involved.

The more educated a city is, the more able it is to adapt to structural changes and identify new opportunities (Cortright, 2017). This is because the more educated workers are, the more productive, knowledgeable and adaptive they are. In addition, skilled workers are able to command a high wage premium as they are critical to a firm’s competitiveness. Thus at a place level, the more skilled jobs a place has, the larger the employment multipliers are (derived from high wages) and innovation spillovers (derived from knowledge and learning) that flow on to other industry sectors to support job creation (Gonzalez-Pampillon, 2019; Muro, 2012).

Hausmann et al (2007) have likened this dynamic to a game of scrabble. They note that a place’s economy is made up of different letters (skills) and the more letters you have the more words you can make (products). Some letters (skills) are also worth more (higher skilled) and therefore are more valuable as they help make more words (products) and more complex words (higher value products). As a result, the more diverse and higher skilled a place becomes, the more that place is able to drive innovation, job creation and offer high wages.

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s