Economic Impact

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    CSUN Economic and Social Impact Study

Impact on the Northridge Neighborhood


Impact on Local Demographics

Because of its commitment to diversity, CSUN has had a tremendous impact on the demographic makeup of the Northridge area. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, full-time residents of the Northridge area are relatively well-off financially, highly educated, and highly diverse. The percentage of residents identifying as White (not Hispanic/Latino) and residents identifying as Hispanic/Latino is virtually identical. The area also has a significantly greater percentage of Asian residents than either the City of Los Angeles or the County of Los Angeles. The inclusive nature of the environment, cultivated by the University’s presence, drives much of the exceptional diversity in the Northridge area.

The average household in the Northridge area earns considerably more than the average household in the broader Los Angeles region, a differential that is likely driven by CSUN’s ability to attract academic professionals and other highly educated individuals. In fact, the median household income is nearly 26% higher in the Northridge area than it is in the City of Los Angeles overall. Households in the Northridge area are also considerably less likely to live below the poverty line than households in Los Angeles County overall, and as such, a smaller proportion of local residents receive cash public assistance or SNAP benefits. During the tumultuous economic years from 2009 to 2013, the unemployment rate in the Northridge area was well below the unemployment rate for both the City and County of Los Angeles. Although CSUN’s funding was affected during that time, it remained relatively stable, which served to bolster employment in the Northridge area.

These differences are largely due to the types of jobs that residents of the Northridge area hold. The proportion of Northridge area residents employed in management, business, science, and arts occupations is roughly in line with that of Los Angeles County, although a greater proportion are employed in sales and office occupations. All of these types of higher-paying positions are linked to the research, academic, and business-centric atmosphere cultivated by CSUN.

Table 15: Population Characteristics, 2009-2013
Indicator Northridge City of Los Angeles County of Los Angeles
Population (000s) 111.1 38,927.3 9,893.5
Median Age (Years) 36.4 34.3 35.1
Share of Pop. 25+ w/ a High School Degree (%) 84.6 74.5 76.6
Share of Pop. 25+ w/ a Bachelor’s Degree (%) 34.2 31.1 29.7
Share of Population (%)
Hispanic or Latino 37.5 48.6 47.9
White 37.4 28.6 27.5
Asian 16.4 11.2 13.7
Black 5.5 9.0 8.1
Two or More 2.3 2.0 2.1
Other 0.9 0.7 0.6
Source: U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey

Impact on local employment

CSUN has a major impact on the community and neighborhood that surrounds it. From employment to cultural diversity, the stimulus and influence of the University is clear in the Northridge area.

The presence of any major university draws many different types of employers to a surrounding region. Businesses in the Retail Trade and Leisure and Hospitality industries, for example, are attracted by the potential spending power of a large student population, while high-tech companies are interested in tapping into the network of highly skilled workers and researchers a university has to offer. CSUN is no exception, and the University’s presence has led to strong employment opportunities across a number of major job sectors in the region—to the benefit of those who live in the Northridge area. These jobs represent all levels of experience, skill, and education, ranging from retail sales positions to high-tech, non-durable goods manufacturing positions.

Nearly every major employment sector in the Northridge area added jobs from the second quarter of 2013 to the second quarter of 2014, including some of the region’s biggest employers. Education, the largest sector in the area by total jobs (led by CSUN and local K-12 schools), experienced a 5% year-over-year increase in employment. The only sector in the Northridge area to face a considerable decline in employment during this time period was Administrative Support, a volatile sector affected by the transitory movement of temporary employment agencies. Strong growth in the Retail Trade and Leisure and Hospitality sectors indicate that steady growth in enrollment at CSUN, as well as the broader economic expansion that has persisted for several years, are driving increases in consumer and business spending, leading to significant new hiring.

In the Northridge area, employment growth has surged in the Professional, Scientific, Technical, Management, and Information super sector. CSUN serves as an ideal source for the talented young workers needed to fill many of these highly skilled positions. The University has also partnered with several major manufacturing companies to help match students with careers in these industries. Northridge can credit CSUN for an employment concentration in Non-Durable Goods Manufacturing that is 32 times higher than in Los Angeles County as a whole. In fact, the Non-Durable Goods Manufacturing sector in the Northridge area grew 2.6% year-over-year even as employment in the sector throughout Los Angeles County has experienced a long-term decline.

Impact on society and community

CSUN helps to shape the culture of the Northridge area community by contributing heavily to local groups. Indeed, the University has developed a strong reputation for service in the area. In fact, CSUN was nationally recognized recently when it was named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll—the highest federal honor universities can receive for their commitment to service learning and civic engagement.11 This recognition was bestowed on the University based on 3,632 students performing 70,862 hours of community service during the 2013/2014 academic year.12 Philanthropy at the university takes on many different forms. A recent alumnus created the Alan Campos Dream Big Scholarship fund to assist financially troubled students. A student entrepreneur, Campos established the fund as a way of cultivating a sense of giving back within the Northridge community. Ultimately, he hopes that others follow in his footsteps, as “just a little bit can go a long way.”13 Associated Students recently held their fifth-annual Summer Movie Fest to benefit the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission.

The philanthropic mindset developed by students while attending CSUN continues post-graduation, with students setting a strong precedent for giving back to the University to support future students. Indeed, more than 10,000 alumni make contributions to the University each year, helping reach total giving of around $20 million annually.

CSUN’s efforts in philanthropy and volunteerism not only develop civic-minded graduates, but also provide a substantial and immediate positive benefit to the broader community.