Saturday, October 20, 2018

Cleveland's economy is kicking butt

Greater Cleveland's economic growth is now ranking with some
of the fastest growing big-city economies in the United States,
like Charlotte, Denver and Portland (photo courtesy of Aerial

In case you've missed it, and judging by the lack of coverage in local mainstream media you have, but Greater Cleveland's economy has managed to win some serious momentum in recent months.

September jobs data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) just came in this past week (see chart below). It showed that Greater Cleveland's employment grew by 2.7 percent compared to September 2017 year-over-year (YOY). That would have been an increase over August's robust 2.5 percent increase YOY, except that August's preliminary data was adjusted upward to 2.7 percent in this latest report.

And that followed a nearly-as-robust June and July when Cleveland not only outgrew every other big city in Ohio -- it was one of the fastest growing in the Midwest.

Well, don't look now (OK, go ahead and look), but Greater Cleveland's employment is now growing at a pace that puts it among the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the United States.

The latest set from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
shows September 2018 preliminary job data and that of
recent months for Greater Cleveland's economy and its
various job sectors (CLICK TO ENLARGE).
Out of large metro areas with more than 500,000 employees, BLS data shows only 15 had percentage increases greater than Greater Cleveland's. In August, we were on par with traditional-growth metros like Charlotte, Denver and Portland. And that was before Cleveland's preliminary growth data got revised upward to 2.7 percent.

What's causing this employment growth? Sure, our expansion of eds-n-meds (Education and Health Services) continues to grow. It's now at the highest level of employment ever. Leisure and Hospitality (aka tourism, conventions, etc.) is at record levels with Professional and Business Services (Progressive and AmTrust insurance being some of the biggest growth contributors here) coming up third. Construction is also booming, with 4,000 more construction jobs now compared to last year.

But the biggest contributor to Cleveland's job growth is an old friend who's been down on its fortunes for decades -- manufacturing. Its growth came in at a blistering 5.9 percent in September. That's not an anomaly either. Cleveland-area manufacturing has been growing in the neighborhood of 3-5 percent all year.

And that's been a pretty attractive neighborhood. All of this job growth is drawing new residents from all over the country and beyond. Perhaps you've noticed the many out-of-state license plates around town, the new faces at your child's day care or the new customers at your favorite fitness center, which I wrote about last March.

If this can be sustained -- and the August numbers being revised upward makes me hopeful it can -- metro population growth is either happening already, or soon will be. Then perhaps Greater Cleveland can soon get back to the employment numbers we last saw prior to 2001.



  1. Is the growth sustainable, especially in manufacturing? How would better public transportation affect job growth?

  2. Manufacturing can be very cyclical, so its good to have a more balanced economy which Cleveland now has. The growth is pretty much across the board. And yes, tapping Greater Cleveland's underutilized labor with better public transportation (and resolving land issues next to existing public transportation to attract employers there) definitely needs to be priority for this region's business and political leaders.