Titillating Tidbits: The Disconnect Between Job Access Rates and Employment in Cleveland Disproportionately Affecting Black People

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click to enlarge There's a reversed relationship between job acccess rates and employment in Cleveland - Cleveland Fed
Cleveland Fed
There's a reversed relationship between job acccess rates and employment in Cleveland

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Areas with high job access rates — in other words, areas that provide residents who live there with reasonable commutes to job areas — should produce higher employment rates. They live near where the jobs are, after all.

According to research by the Cleveland Fed, that's true for 96 metro areas it sampled.

But, it's the exact opposite, reversed relationship in Cleveland.

Most of the neighborhoods within the city of Cleveland have access to at least 40 percent of the metro area’s jobs, with even higher rates of jobs access in the southeastern neighborhoods of Cleveland (Broadway–Slavic Village, Kinsman, Lee–Harvard, Lee–Seville, and Mount Pleasant). Yet in many of these same neighborhoods, less than 50 percent of the male working-age population is employed, a number well below the Cleveland metro-area average of 62.5 percent; female employment rates in these neighborhoods are also well below the metro area average of 55.8 percent.

And the effects are felt disproportionately by Black residents.

Almost 65 percent of the Black residents in the Cleveland metro area live in a neighborhood with access to at least 43 percent of metro area’s jobs. But female employment rates are slightly lower than the metro-area average in these areas, and male employment rates are markedly lower. Next, consider the racial composition of workers in jobs located within a typical commute distance for each quintile. On average across all quintiles, 15.4 percent of these jobs are held by Black workers. This figure increases to more than 20 percent in neighborhoods with high rates of job access. But when compared to the share of neighborhood workforce that is Black (greater than 40 percent), these data show that even though Black neighborhoods tend to have higher rates of job access, Black workers are underrepresented in surrounding employment opportunities: 4 out of 5 jobs are held by non-Black workers.

The causes, according to the Cleveland Fed, are "associated with high levels of residential segregation and misalignments between a neighborhood’s workforce and surrounding employment in terms of race and education."

The policy answers are clear, if difficult to achieve:

Ensure that the benefits of job access can be realized by those living in high job access neighborhoods. In order for the benefits of job access to be realized, solutions must be intentional and strategic regarding race and must focus on improving the alignment of a neighborhood’s workforce and surrounding employment.
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