Report: Job sprawl persists in Youngstown-Warren area

By Jamison Cocklin


The share of jobs located in or near a downtown has declined in 91 of the nation’s 100 largest metro areas in the last decade, including in the Youngstown-Warren area, where work has increasingly sprawled to the suburbs, according to a report from the Brookings Institution.

While the Great Recession helped to curb the outward shift of employment, by 2010 nearly twice the share of jobs, about 43 percent, were located at least 10 miles away from central business districts, according to the report, released this week by Brookings’ Metropolitan Policy Program.

“Building a healthy and sustainable regional economy is not just about growing jobs, but also about where those jobs locate,” said the report’s author, Elizabeth Kneebone.

Sprawling development can lead to increased energy consumption, strains on infrastructure, longer commute times and greater challenges in connecting more workers to employment.

The report defines both Warren and Youngstown as the Mahoning Valley’s predominant central business districts.

Combined, those jobs located within three to 10 miles of each downtown accounted for 45 percent of the area’s workforce — approximately 89,711 jobs.

Nearly 28 percent, or 54,709, of Youngstown-Warren’s jobs are located between 10 and 35 miles of the cities’ downtown business districts, while 27 percent, or 54,368 jobs, were located within three miles.

The impact of the recession was greatest on the outer rings of the metro areas, those 10 to 35 miles, with steep declines in employment seen across multiple industries.

Construction, manufacturing and retail, which rank among the most decentralized industries, accounted for 60 percent of national metropolitan job losses within 35 miles of central business districts.

At the same time, though, health care and education, both considered centralized industries, gained jobs in all three rings between 2007 and 2010.

Those numbers are in keeping with Youngstown-Warren’s workforce, where construction accounts for about 4 percent of all jobs, manufacturing accounts for 14 percent and educational and health services account for about 19 percent of the area’s workforce, according to figures compiled in 2012 by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services.

Since 2000, the Youngstown-Warren region has shed 11,600 manufacturing jobs, according to ODJFS.

Youngstown-Warren’s sprawl was average when compared with other areas where high growth rates in suburban population helped accelerate employment opportunities outside city centers.

In the last decade, jobs between 10 and 35 miles increased by 1.7 percent and jobs between three and 10 miles increased by 1 percent in the Youngstown-Warren area. Jobs within three miles of the region’s central business districts declined by nearly 3 percent.

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