The Bad Business of Northeast Ohio Sprawl
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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