With all the different variables out there, how can you predict the future based on the data and what data should you be looking for? What is the significance of some of these numbers?
You'll find what to look for - the type of work, size of firms (this matters), nature of those industries, and more interesting ideas that you can use as an analytical tools. Some types of workers and industries can retool very quickly or take on new kinds of work. Obviously this leads to much greater economic successful transitions. The opposite is true in some cases, which leads to less successful transition and stagnation.
You'll be able to predict how a city might react to an economic transformation or what the future might hold for the city.
This work seems to build very much on the conceptual ideas by Jane Jacobs in this book here.