Job access is a critical element of a vibrant, sustainable economy. A growing body of research—including our Fund’s own (see The Geography of Jobs)—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. Jobs are moving farther away from people, making public transportation challenging. As a larger community, we haven’t shown much of an appetite to address these challenges. This is not just consumer and market preferences at work. 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.
Our Job Access Strategy
- Bring jobs to people: Target investment in job hubs and job corridors throughout the state, particularly those closer to where concentrations of people live or those that leverage existing infrastructure and transportation assets.
- Connect people to jobs: Support increased state investment in public transit, and pioneering public/private innovation in worker mobility through emerging transportation models (Uber, Chariot, Lyft, and others) that increase access to job hubs.
- Address social barriers to job access: Long-standing institutional practices exacerbate the disconnection of residents from the economy. Our work strives to recognize and address the cost and consequences of institutional racism on our economy.
Key job access funding partners in 2016 were: