Tuesday, Apr 24, 2018
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Brookings Institution study finds fewer businesses migrating to suburbs

Toledo’s central business district lost fewer firms to suburbs

There were few if any positive developments during the recent Great Recession, but an interesting result during the three-year window from 2007 to 2010 is that the recession slowed the outward migration of jobs from Toledo’s central business area to its outer suburbs, according to a report released today by the Brookings Institution.

Brookings looked at the nation’s 100 largest metro areas from 2000 to 2010 and charted the job loss or gain from the area’s central business district to points that were 3 miles out, 3 to 10 miles out, and 10 to 35 miles out to determine how fast jobs are migrating to the suburbs.

The report, “Job Sprawl Stalls: The Great Recession and Metropolitan Employment Location,” used Census Bureau ZIP code data from 2000, 2007, and 2010 to chart job growth or losses.

It showed that with few exceptions, the early to mid-2000s were mostly characterized by a steady decentralization of jobs. However, that decentralization stabilized during the 2007-2010 period.

The report’s author, Elizabeth Kneebone, a fellow with Brooking’s Metropolitan Policy Program, said the results could be viewed as a wake-up call to policymakers that the outward migration of jobs is a trend that cannot be stopped even by recession, and changes are needed to halt the pattern.

“The recession slowed the trends, but it didn’t reverse them. So once the economy picks up again, if there aren’t policy changes in place, that decentralization of jobs will continue, and it could have long-term implications for a region,” she said.

In looking at overall job losses or gains, the report found that job losses within 3 miles of a downtown were the dominant trend. Ninety-one of 100 metro areas showed job losses within 3 miles of their downtowns in the 2000s.

In Toledo, jobs within 3 miles of downtown declined 2.5 percent from 2000 to 2010, the most recent data available. And the metro area overall lost jobs in the 2000s, decreasing by 35 percent.

But the recession slowed the outward migration of jobs to the suburbs.

From 2000 to 2007, the share of jobs within 3 miles of Toledo’s central business district decreased 1.7 percent, while the jobs located within 3 to 10 miles from the central business district decreased 1 percent.

Meanwhile, the share of jobs 10 to 35 miles out increased 2.7 percent in that seven-year span, a clear sign of suburban job growth at Toledo’s expense.

However, during the recession, the job loss slowed nearer the central business district, falling by just 0.8 percent within 3 miles of the central business district. Within 3 to 10 miles of the central area, the job share actually grew by 0.9 percent. And in the suburban areas 10 miles to 35 miles from the district, the share of jobs decreased by 0.1 percent.

As the economy gets back on its feet, Ms. Kneebone said the pattern of outward migration of jobs likely will heat up again.

One of the looming problems is a growing disconnect between where jobs are and where the work force lives. As jobs migrate outward, it gets harder for low-income workers to reach those jobs, Ms. Kneebone said.

A local example of the disconnect is Perrysburg’s decision last year to end TARTA bus service to the Toledo-area suburb, making it more difficult for low-income workers to get to their jobs.

“Not every region is the same, but the outward job growth does create transit challenges and other problems. It creates longer commute times, more cars on the road, and a larger carbon footprint,” Ms. Kneebone said. “It also raises issues of connecting low-income citizens to suburban job opportunities.

“A labor market is regional. The arguments around planning and economic development should be linked up on a regional scale and take into account where does the work force live,” she said.

Of the nation’s 100 largest metro areas, Brookings found that the share of jobs nearest downtown increased in 54 of the metro areas between 2007 and 2010.

The report said three industries — construction, manufacturing, and retail — accounted for the largest job losses during the recession.

Between 2007 and 2010, those sectors suffered 60 percent of the decline in total employment within 35 miles of all metro areas. Those sectors also are the most decentralized of all job sectors, Brookings said.

However, at the same time those sectors were declining, health-care and social-assistance jobs were growing, accounting for an average of 17 percent of all jobs in the cores of the top 100 metro areas.

That those fields also grew by 4 percent near downtowns, and their growth combined with the job losses in the other sectors, are what helped slow the outward migration of jobs, Brookings said.

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.

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