The Future of Work: Riverside

Riverside, CA and its 325,000 residents sit at the heart of the “Inland Empire,” the nation’s 13th largest metro area. The area is in the midst of an undisputed jobs boom driven by logistics, distribution and health care. New arrivals flock to the area in search of jobs and affordable housing – the New California Dream.

But the area’s boom is threatened by the impact of technology and automation on jobs, tasks and workers. A chorus of national and international experts is sounding the alarm about over-dependence on low-wage, low-skill employment in industries highly susceptible to technology and automation.

The Bertelsmann Foundation teamed up with the National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB) to engage local stakeholders in an attempt to move the conversation beyond estimates of jobs gained or lost, to identify Riverside’s core future-of-work strengths, challenges and needs.

riverside california and the future of work

Summary of Main Findings

In their analysis, the Bertelsmann Foundation and NAWB found:

  • Widespread agreement that technology and automation will transform jobs, tasks, and incomes, is met by widespread confusion about what these forces actually mean for Riverside and its workers.

  • Having shifted from agriculture to the military and logistics in the past, many sense is that Riverside is already prepared to face the next major transition ushered in by technology and automation.

  • A lack of corporate champions means there is less urgency and demand from policymakers and the community to formulate future of work solutions.  

  • Although Riverside is home to three universities, a college, and more than 50,000 college students, just 21 percent of adults there hold a bachelor’s degree–the city must find a way to keep graduates who can drive the future of work.

  • The breakneck growth of logistics and distribution has created lots of jobs for those who need them now, but these sectors could be heavily automated over the coming years. Policymakers and employers must be more proactive in equipping workers with the skills needed to pivot to other opportunities.

  • Riverside maintains an historic downtown packed with cultural institutions. Quality of life improvements on this foundation will help the city attract and retain mid and high skill workers.


Jeffrey Brown
Manager, Future of Work & Artificial Intelligence