The Fund for Our Economic Future (Fund), a collaboration of more than 40 funders working on inclusive economic growth in Northeast Ohio, has released the 2019 edition of its Growth & Opportunity scorecard on how the Northeast Ohio economy is doing.
The scorecard, first issued in The Two Tomorrows report released in February 2018, tracks eight key measures to reflect how the regional economy is faring on growth and also whether that growth is reaching residents regardless of their race or where they live.
"In The Two Tomorrows, we called for a new way to define success beyond traditional growth measures of job gains, gross product and per capita income, because we know our growth is not reaching all people and that is a detriment to the region's long-term sustainability and vibrancy," said Fund Vice President Bethia Burke.
The 2019 scorecard shows:
- Employment is bright spot. The bright spot of the scorecard is employment: 74 percent of working-age adults in Northeast Ohio are employed. This is up from 70 percent in 2017. Economists generally consider "full employment" as 75 percent.
- Growth is happening, but Northeast Ohio not keeping up with peers. There were modest improvements in traded-sector growth and growth in young firms, though the region is still lagging its peers. (The scorecard benchmarks Northeast Ohio against 10 peer economies with similar geography, size or industrial heritage).
- Equity metrics moving in right direction, but region has a long way to go. The region also closed the gap on metrics of employment, income and geographic equity, but the disparities in outcomes between white and black Northeast Ohio residents are still significant. The unemployment rate for black workers is 8.2 percentage points greater than the unemployment rate for white workers, and monthly income for white workers is on average $1,500 greater than for black workers. The Fund has called for the community to work toward elimination of these disparities in economic outcomes.
- Jobs created are still not "good" jobs. In measures of income and economic security, there was little to no improvement. Average incomes rose just 0.6 percent, slightly below the 1 percent target, and at a slower pace than in the prior performance period. Economic security remained at just 58 percent, meaning only 58 percent of families in Northeast Ohio earn a living wage. The target is 75 percent.
The Fund stressed the importance of continuing to monitor the region's progress in these areas, and plans to issue a scorecard each year with the most recent data.
"As these measures make clear, much work remains," said Fund President Brad Whitehead. "We will regularly report out on how our region is doing, and continue to provide resources to the community -- whether that be additional analysis, convening support or grant dollars -- that can help us collectively work toward improvements."
Data analysis for the scorecard was conducted by the Fund's Director of Job Preparation Janine Spadafore Kaiser. The Northeast Ohio scorecard as well as scorecards for individual communities are available on the Fund's website.