A growing body of research—including our Fund’s own—underscores that the vitality of a region’s economy depends in part on its ability to connect people to good jobs and firms to workers with the appropriate skillset. Spatially, on both those counts, Northeast Ohio is falling short relative to other parts of the U.S. and relative to its potential to be globally competitive.
We’re using more land today than two decades ago with no net increase in population or jobs. The result: Jobs are locating farther and farther away from where people live. And this outmigration makes public transportation challenging.
The combination of growth patterns and lack of transit options come with significant consequences:
- Increased costs (time and money) for residents:
- The number of jobs within a typical commuting distance of Greater Clevelanders fell by 26 percent from 2000 to 2012, a decline in proximate jobs measurably worse than anywhere else in the U.S.
- Many Ohioans spend a greater share of their income on transportation costs than on housing. And for those residents without access to a car (~25 percent of Cleveland residents don’t have access to a vehicle), they face a never-ending cycle of no car, no job; no job, no car.
- Negative implications for businesses:
- According to a recent survey by Team NEO, employers cite the number one challenge to making new employees successful as “attendance/showing up ready to work on time.”
- Strain on governments:
- Spatial mismatch threatens civic fiscal health. If current growth patterns continue, the worst performing county today will be better off than the best performing county in 2040.
- Detrimental to our environment:
- The Cleveland-Akron-Canton region was listed as 9th worst for annual particle pollution out of 184 metro areas in the recent Lung USA State of the Air report. We’re also 39th worst for high ozone days out of 228 metro areas.
The reasons for this outward expansion are many, but cannot be chalked up to free market forces entirely. Fragmented, dispersed, unaligned decisions on where to allocate public incentives, how to prioritize land aggregation, and what infrastructure upgrades to invest in have had a compounding impact over time.
In recent years, our Fund has focused its research on better understanding our region's development patterns and where jobs are locating in our region, as a way to inform and influence better decision making going forward. For more on our job access research to date, including our most recent analysis of Northeast Ohio job hubs, see the menu bar at left.