Job hubs are specific places of concentrated economic activity in a region. They are defined and identified based on the extent to which they exhibit the following four characteristics:
"The location of employment within a metro area intersects with a range of policy issues—from transportation to workforce development to regional innovation—that affect a region’s long-term health, prosperity, and social inclusion."
"...commuting time has emerged as the single strongest factor in the odds of escaping poverty. The longer an average commute in a given county, the worse the chances of low-income families there moving up the ladder."
Over the last several decades in Northeast Ohio, our industrial, commercial and residential development has expanded outward, while the number of people living here and the number of jobs located here has remained about the same. The result: People are increasingly disconnected from jobs. Indeed, residents in the Cleveland, Akron and Youngstown areas saw huge drops in the number of nearby jobs from 2000 to 2012, according to a study from the Brookings Institution. This trend is even worse for residents of low-income neighborhoods. The spatial mismatch between people and jobs has real costs. People spend more time and money commuting; businesses struggle to fill open positions; municipalities spend on infrastructure to support new development while having to maintain the underutilized assets left behind; and our environment suffers as air quality declines due to long, car-based commutes. Ultimately, our regional economy loses its competitive edge. Click on the images below to learn more about how spatial mismatch impacts the community.
People Unemployed individuals find work faster the closer they live to jobs. The growing distance between people and jobs in Northeast Ohio likely means it takes more time for these workers to re-join the economy. Once employed, residents spend a greater share of their income on transportation than on housing. This is due in large part to the cost of commuting long distances to work. A good resource for this is Center for Neighborhood Technology's Housing and Transportation Affordability Index tool. Click here to read about the experiences of individuals living and working in our region who have faced commuting challenges.
Businesses Businesses face challenges filling open positions in part because available workers live farther and farther away from jobs. In a survey of more than 300 business owners conducted by Team NEO and Kent State University at Stark, respondents said “attendance” and “showing up ready to work on time” were the biggest challenges to making new employees successful. While there are many factors that could contribute to this challenge, the long commutes faced by our region's workers likely play an important role.
Municipalities Much of the new development in Northeast Ohio has meant the conversion of greenfields — farmland and other undeveloped space — into new housing, office space and industrial parks. To support these development patterns, municipalities must spend increasing amounts of their tax revenue to provide infrastructure for new development while also maintaining the often vacant or underutilized infrastructure that's left behind. Research conducted during the VibrantNEO 2040 process suggests that the continuation of these trends would spell fiscal doom for our region's municipalities.
Environment Declining air quality in our region negatively impacts all people who call Northeast Ohio home.
Increasing the connection between people and jobs, and providing residents with transportation options beyond the one-person, one-vehicle commute, can help mitigate these troubling trends.
Any conversation about sustainable economic growth should begin with job hubs. The reasons for our outward expansion are many, but cannot be chalked up to free market forces alone. 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. Just as past decisions have led to our current situation, decisions our leaders make now can shape the development of the future. Supporting business growth around a thoughtfully identified and competitive job hub can form the foundation of an economy that is attractive for businesses to grow, efficient for citizens to access, fiscally prudent, and environmentally responsible. And it is a concept that allows for growth throughout the region since there are job hubs in cities, suburbs and rural communities.
The residents of our community often bear the brunt of these job access challenges. Below are stories collected from individuals across Northeast Ohio. The names of all individuals have been changed to protect their privacy. Click on the dots to the right to read the stories we heard. Have a story to share? Tweet #stranded @thefundneo
Cleveland is looking to make inclusive growth attainable by connecting jobs to people and people to jobs.Read More
Bringing "jobs to people" is only half of the story; we must also bring "people to jobs."Read More
Our region is increasingly seeing that physical access to jobs is one of the community's most pressing workforce issues that limits our overall economic growth.Read More
Join Madison Scagnetti as she talks with Peter Truog about the job hubs research.Listen
Watch as local leaders discuss how they are thinking of putting the job hubs research into action.Watch
How communities can improve their competitiveness.Read More
The Fund for Our Economic Future is a philanthropic alliance devoted to improving the Northeast Ohio economy. We do this through a two-fold frame of Growth & Opportunity, or the belief that economic growth without equitable access to opportunity is insufficient and unsustainable. To advance Growth & Opportunity, we support strategies to improve job creation, job preparation and job access in our region. The job hubs research is an important part of our job access work. Understanding our region's job hubs can help influence smarter land-use policy and better coordination between transportation infrastructure planning, transit planning, the business community and economic development entities so that we can reverse the development patterns that have created economic disparities and increase inclusive economic growth by better connecting people and jobs. Over the course of 2017, we worked with transportation planning organizations and business development entities in Northeast Ohio to jointly develop the data and mapping of our region's job hubs. We're grateful to the partners who helped us develop this research: