Spotlight on the Inland Empire




This Spotlight on the Inland Empire, part of the Regional Report Series associated with A Portrait of California 2021–2022, paints a picture of well-being and access to opportunity across the Inland Empire today. The Spotlight is an extensive study of well-being across race, place, and gender in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.  Using the American Human Development Index (HDI), this report presents how Inland Empire residents are doing on three key dimensions of well-being—a long and healthy life, access to knowledge, and a decent standard of living. Broken down by race and ethnicity, by gender, and by census tract, the index shows how communities across the San Joaquin Valley are faring relative to one another and to the state and country as a whole. The report found that stark variation exists by place and by demographic group—resulting in significant inequalities regionwide.

The HDI score for the Inland Empire is 5.10 out of 10, compared to 5.85 for the state as a whole. This score places the Inland Empire right in the center of the ranked list of California metro areas—fifteen metro areas have a higher score, and sixteen have a lower score. Over the last ten years, the Inland Empire’s score has improved more than the state score; a decade ago, the Inland Empire scored, 4.58 and California scored 5.46. The HDI score of the Inland Empire increased at a slightly higher rate than that of California: 11.4 percent versus 7.1 percent. Today, residents of the Inland Empire live over two years longer, are more likely to hold high school diplomas and bachelor’s degrees, and earn about $7,000 more than Inland Empire residents in 2009.

In the Inland Empire, HDI scores vary significantly by gender, by race and ethnicity, and by place.