Research group analyzes Akron jobs as ‘sprawl’ issue

Beacon Journal staff report

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Southbound traffic on Arlington Road heads into Green on Wednesday. Akron's downtown area lost 16,700 jobs between 2000 and 2010 according to a new study by the Brookings Institution. Akron has a a much higher percentage of jobs located between 3 and 10 miles from downtown that the national average. (Mike Cardew/Akron Beacon Journal)

Akron’s downtown area lost 16,700 jobs between 2000 and 2010, a new study says.

Another 14,328 jobs disappeared within three to 10 miles of the central city.

And 6,185 were lost between 10 and 35 miles from downtown.

The Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, will release a report today that analyzed “job sprawl” in the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas.

That sprawl — jobs locating in suburbs and beyond, as opposed to downtowns — slowed since the Great Recession, mainly because of steep job losses outside central cities. But nationwide, 77 percent of jobs now can be found outside of downtowns, a 2 percent increase since 2000, according to the study “Job Sprawl Stalls: The Great Recession and Metropolitan Location.”

Akron has a slightly higher share of jobs within three miles of its downtown than the national average — 24.9 percent compared to 22.9 percent.

But the city’s share fell 2.5 percent between 2000 and 2010, the study says. Overall, there are 66,247 jobs within three miles of downtown.

Among Ohio’s seven largest cities, Cleveland fared the worst by sheer numbers, shedding 54,134 jobs in its downtown area.

Dayton saw its share of downtown jobs fall by 3.9 percent, the largest percentage decline among the seven cities.

Akron has a much higher percentage of jobs located between three and 10 miles from downtown than the national average — 44.3 percent compared to 34.1 percent.

The community has 117,986 jobs in that ring, the study says.

It has a smaller share of jobs between 10 and 35 miles from downtown than the national average — 30.9 percent compared to 43.1 percent.

“Building a healthy and sustainable regional economy is not just about growing jobs, but also about where those jobs locate,” report author Elizabeth Kneebone said in a prepared statement. “Low-
density, sprawling development can lead to increased energy consumption, strains on infrastructure, longer commute times, and greater challenges connecting workers to employment.”

During the recession, 97 of the 100 largest metro areas lost employment within 35 miles of a central business district.

The impact was greatest on the outer rings of metro areas, where steep employment losses between 2007 and 2010 contributed to a slight drop in the share of jobs located at least 10 miles away from downtown.

Construction, manufacturing and retail accounted for 60 percent of job losses within 35 miles of downtowns following the recession and roughly two-thirds in the outer ring alone.

Meanwhile, health care and education gained jobs overall in all three rings between 2007 and 2010.

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