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The Revitalization of Older Industrial Cities: A Review Essay of Retooling for Growth

This review essay debates the policy issues raised by the book Retooling for Growth: Building a 21st Century Economy in America’s Older Industrial Areas, edited by Richard M. McGahey and Jennifer S. Vey (Brookings Institution Press, 2008). I argue that the main rationale for adopting policies to revitalize older industrial cities is to improve the per capita earnings of urban residents. Therefore, urban economic development policy should be seen as urban labor market policy. Increasing city residents’ earnings requires progress on two fronts: increasing metropolitan labor demand; increasing the quantity and quality of the effective labor supply of city residents so that they can better access high-quality jobs. Effective policies to increase metropolitan labor demand include: reforms to business incentive policies to place more emphasis on providing corporations with in-kind incentives such as customized job training; helping small and medium-sized businesses by providing them with useful information to enhance business productivity. Effective policies to increase city residents’ labor supply include: high-quality preschool education; more time during the early elementary years on core learning tasks; reforming high school to develop stronger links with careers and employers; expanding community college efforts that provide useful career training for high-quality jobs.

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Paper provided by W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in its series Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles with number 08-143.

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Date of creation: Nov 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Growth and Change 40(1): 1-29.
Handle: RePEc:upj:weupjo:08-143
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  1. H. J. Holzer & K. R. Ihlanfeldt, . "Spatial factors and the employment of blacks at the firm level," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1086-96, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
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  13. Rogers, Cynthia L., 1997. "Job Search and Unemployment Duration: Implications for the Spatial Mismatch Hypothesis," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 109-132, July.
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