Metro Cleveland's Job Growth is Poor Compared to Other Midwestern Metros
Metro Cleveland's long-term employment growth has trailed most other large metro areas in the heavily industrialized Midwest.
Can one infer good and bad metro area business climates by looking long-term employment growth? There are three major Bureau of Labor Statistics data series that have tracked metro area employment growth over a long period of time:
1) Current Employment Statistics (CES)
2) Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)
3) Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW)
These widely-accepted series have slightly different methodologies and provide slightly different estimates of private employment growth, but the three series can be used together to provide an unbiased comparison of relative employment growth in twelve major Midwestern metro areas. Analyzing the three series over a long period of time improves the comparison by reducing the impact of business cycles and industry-specific events that might affect a few metro areas more than other areas.
Based on the Current Employment Statistics (CES) data series, Metro Cleveland private employment grew by only 5% from 1990 to 2019. The area ranked 10th out of 12 comparable Midwestern areas. The nine areas above Metro Cleveland had growth rates over 16% and five areas had growth rates exceeding 30%.
In a second data series, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS), Metro Cleveland employment grew by only 2% from 1990 to 2019, compared to 17% for the entire x-state Midwest region. The area ranked 11th out of 12 comparable areas, four of which had employment growth rates over 30%.
A third data series, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) was only available from 2001, but it confirmed Metro Cleveland's poor employment growth ranking. Metro Cleveland lost 5% of its private employment from 2001 to 2019 and it ranked 12th in private employment growth among the 12 Midwestern metro areas. The data series also showed that Metro Cleveland ranked 12th in private business establishment formation.
CONCLUSION: The analysis of several large, comparable Midwestern metro areas confirmed Metro Cleveland's abnormally slow employment growth rates. Employment in a few metro areas has been buoyed by their status as state capitals and educational centers, but most of the metro areas have substantial manufacturing bases like Metro Cleveland. While it was beyond the scope of this note to explain the reasons for Metro Cleveland's lagging performance, it was clear that major changes in Metro Cleveland's business climate and economic development efforts are needed if the future job growth was to be better than the past three decades.
A summary PDF of the combined rankings from the three data series is available below. Further analysis of the raw data by decade is available in the following PDF documents.