Dr. Robert Habans is The Data Center’s Economist. As the organization’s lead expert on local and regional economic analysis, Dr. Habans is primarily responsible for developing and conducting research projects that focus on economic development and workforce development, water management and coastal resilience, inclusive economic growth, and related topics.
Dr. Habans has over a decade of research experience focusing on urban policy, local economic development, labor market change, and the economics of place from the neighborhood to the regional scale. Broadly, Robert’s research examines how geographic difference and institutional change intersect with policy design and implementation, industrial and labor market restructuring, and the possibility of a more equitable, more balanced economy. Robert is an expert at blending quantitative and comparative approaches to research, designing innovative applications of economic data, and cultivating administrative data sources.
He has published research reports and peer-reviewed journal articles that span a wide range of topics, including low-wage work and the future of work, timely policy issues at the state and local level, and the uneven development of industries and institutions. Robert’s dissertation investigated how the growth and evolution of the biomedical economy has shaped local economic development planning. He has also conducted empirical studies of the impact of local policies to increase employment standards and the causes and consequences of polarization and flexibility in the labor market. Dr. Habans’ research and commentary have been featured in media outlets like the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, and he has taught courses on the intersection between politics, economics, and place.
Prior to coming to The Data Center, Robert held research appointments at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A native of Greater New Orleans, Dr. Habans earned his PhD in Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a focus on local economic development planning. He also holds an undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and a masters degree from the University of New Orleans.
Urban and regional economies
History and theory of local economic development policy
Labor markets and economic polarization
Data on local economies
Research and analysis methods
Postdoctoral Research Associate, Project for Middle Class Renewal, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Research Associate, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, UCLA
Graduate Researcher and Instructor, University of Illinois at Chicago
PhD, Urban Planning and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago
MS, Urban Studies, University of New Orleans
BA, Economics, University of California, Berkeley