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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Job Accessibility as a Performance Indicator: An Analysis of Trends and Their Social Policy Implications in the San Francisco Bay Area


Shifts in job accessibility reflect, in part, the degree to which land use and transportation decisions are helping to economize on commuting and promote social equality objectives. This paper argues for the aggressive use of accessibility indicators as part of the long-range transportation planning process. As a case example, changes in job accessibility indices are traced for the San Francisco Bay Area from 1980 to 1990, computed for 100 residential areas and the region’s 22 largest employment centers. The indices were refined based on occupational match indicators that weighed the consistency between residents’ employment roles and labor force occupational characteristics at workplaces. The analysis revealed that peripheral areas tended to be the least job accessible. Moreover, employment centers that are home to highly skilled professional workers were generally the most accessible when occupational matching is accounted for. This was interpreted to reflect the existence of a more robust and responsive housing market in and around higher end employment centers. Our analyses also revealed that residents of low income, inner-city neighborhoods generally faced the greatest occupational mismatches. Through a path analysis, racial discrimination was found to be a more serious obstacle to employment than job accessibility, however. We conclude that the very purpose of tracking change sin accessibility is to provide feedback on the degree to which resource allocation decisions in the urban transportation field are helping to redress serious inequities in accessibility to jobs, medical facilities, and other important destinations.

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