This post originally appeared on the Green City Blue Lake blog on September 21, 2015. 


The Fund for Our Economic Future is working on a report titled, “The Geography of Jobs” which looks at sprawl in Northeast Ohio along two lines: How it affects the economy and the economically disadvantaged. A central finding is the average job hub for a Clevelander is a 20-minute drive or 75-minute transit trip away.

“(Job access) may be the most important issue no one is talking about,” The Fund writes. “The vitality of a region’s economy depends on its ability to connect people to good jobs.”

The report, which is a synthesis of existing data, notes that 22% of jobs have “disappeared” for the average Northeast Ohioan. The impact has been felt most keenly by 200,000 residents in economically distressed communities, the report notes.

“Let’s take a closer look,” The Fund writes. “For a resident living in Kinsman, the number of jobs in his or her vicinity declined by 35% from 1998 to 2013.”

Although 88,000 jobs have been added in Northeast Ohio since the Recession, job gains in the suburbs have outpaced those in cities as a share of overall employment where a “lack of access to employers makes it harder for workers to hold steady, full-time positions, especially those workers who are already disadvantaged economically.”

Job sprawl is linked to inequities resulting from concentrating poverty. The Fund points to a Harvard study that found cities with less sprawl—as measured by commutes of 15 minutes or less—had “significantly higher rates of upward mobility.”

The Fund hopes to spark a regional effort here to emphasize the importance job location has relative to population densities.

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