Posted Apr 6, 2009, 10:23 AM
Midwest Moderator - Editor
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Big Mitten
Detroit area tops in 'job sprawl'
Sweet baby jeebus! I knew that employment in Metro Detroit was quite decentralized, but to see the numbers drives the point home. It's not even close to second place.
The statistic, alone, doesn't decide the health of a city center (as can be witnessed by second-plass Chicago), but when combined with other factors, particular auto ownership, it can be telling. It's why Detroit needs to get its mass transit system up and running like never before.
Metro areas with most job sprawl
Among metropolitan areas with more than 500,000 jobs, work was farthest from the city center in these:
- Detroit 77.4 percent of jobs
- Chicago 68.7 percent
- Dallas 66.9 percent
- Los Angeles 65.6 percent
- Philadelphia 63.7 percent
- Atlanta 63.2 percent
- Miami 62.6 percent
- St. Louis 60.9 percent
- San Francisco 57.3 percent
- Seattle 56.0 percent
Source: Brookings Institution
Detroit area tops in 'job sprawl'
Louis Aguilar / The Detroit News
Monday, April 6, 2009
More than three-fourths of jobs in Metro Detroit are farther than 10 miles from the heart of the city, deepening the economic and social divide between Detroit and its suburbs.
In a report released this morning, the Brookings Institution said almost every major American metro area has seen a drop in the share of employment downtown since 1998, as jobs have increasingly moved into suburbs.
The phenomenon is called "job sprawl," and nowhere in America is that disconnect greater than in Metro Detroit.
About 77 percent of jobs in Metro Detroit are more than 10 miles from the city center, the Brookings report found.
In most metro regions, the study found, about 45 percent of all jobs are at least 10 miles from their downtowns.
"Job sprawl is detrimental to employment and raises a lot of challenges," said author Elizabeth Kneebone, whose study of employment trends mapped 98 metropolitan areas, from 1998-2006.
It means many low-income and minority residents are often isolated from job opportunities, she said, and it adds to commute times and expenses.
The problem is especially acute in Detroit, which lacks a regional mass transit system and where only 1 out of 3 residents has access to a car.
Shayneece Batson of Detroit is a perfect example. Batson had to quit her job at a Troy grocery store because the co-worker and fellow Detroiter who gave her a ride quit.
Batson, who doesn't own a car, was at a Michigan Works! jobs placement center looking for work last week, but said that "every job they want me to apply for I would have to catch like two bus lines to get there.
"You know how hard it is to catch one?" she asked. "You can't depend on that to be on time for a job."
Manufacturing has moved
The Brookings study found that regions heavily dependent upon manufacturing, like Detroit, have among the highest job sprawl rates.
That is due, it determined, to the practice of building large manufacturing plants away the city.
"It shows that a lot of policy decisions are not being made in concert, and that undermines the economic health of cities and regions in many ways," Kneebone said.
The February unemployment rate for the state was 12 percent; it was 22.2 percent in Detroit in January, the last month for which a local breakdown is available.
Job sprawl trends, said Kneebone, "have persisted over periods of both economic expansion and decline.
"This suggests that, while the current recession may temporarily slow the rate of job sprawl, rising unemployment will not on its own reverse the long-run trend."
The location of jobs is also important to the larger discussion about creating jobs, said Robert Puentes, a Brookings senior fellow.
"Allowing jobs to shift away from city centers hurts economic productivity, creates unsustainable and energy inefficient development, and limits access to underemployed workers," he said.
Help from stimulus plan
The federal economic stimulus package, Puentes said, gives cities and states the chance to plan "more compact development that will result in more productive, sustainable and inclusive metropolitan growth" that can reverse job sprawl patterns.
Job sprawl doesn't just mean that city residents have fewer nearby employment options.
It also means that suburbanites may have to drive across the metropolitan area, from one fringe suburb to another, for work.
More driving in suburbs
Orentyl Boyd lives in Mount Clemens, but drives to Farmington Hills for her job working with spinal cord injury patients.
The $11-an-hour job offers no benefits, and her work hours vary from week to week.
"I really like the job, but I do worry about advancing and even trying to get ahead, but now it's more like living paycheck to paycheck," said Boyd, 27.
Other large metropolitan areas -- with more than 500,000 jobs -- that suffer from severe job sprawl are Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.
Best among the large metro areas was Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, followed by New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, and Salt Lake City.
Among communities with between 165,000 and 500,000 jobs, the Lansing-East Lansing area fared well: seventh overall.
Thirty-nine percent of jobs in the area are within three miles of the city center.
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