(The Center Square) – Ohio’s second-largest city leads the state and ranks in the top five nationally for job losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recently released study by Cleveland State University.
The Cleveland Metropolitan Area ranks fourth out of the nation’s 40 largest metro areas in total job losses from July 2019 to July 2020, trailing only New York, Las Vegas and Boston, according to the study published by the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at CSU.
That ranking didn’t surprise one of the study’s authors, Richey Piiparinen, director of urban theory and analytics at Levin College
“There are really no priors regarding how COVID-19 would impact a given region’s economy,” Piiparinen said. “This is apparent when looking at the metros performing worse than Cleveland: New York, Boston and Las Vegas. That such a varied trio of regions is equally hard hit tells me COVID-19 is an equal opportunity threat to job growth nationwide. And it is, no doubt.”
Of Ohio’s three major cities, the study says Cincinnati fares the best in terms of job recovery, while Cleveland seems to be stalled. In April, the two cities posted a similar number of job losses at around 164,000. But, Cincinnati’s June to July number reduced dramatically to 75,200.
“We are doing an analysis of why some metros are recovering faster than others,” Piiparinen said. “One factor in the Cleveland versus Cincinnati divergence may be due to healthcare being so affected in Cleveland given its high concentration of skilled healthcare occupations.”
Also, Cincinnati’s recovery in food and accommodation jobs outpaces the Cleveland area. Piiparinen thinks that may result from COVID-19’s impact being stronger in Cuyahoga County than Hamilton County.
“Each of these explanations, however, need further investigation, which was beyond the score of this analysis,” Piiparinen.
The study reveals COVID’s impact on the economy is four times greater than the 2008 recession, citing quarterly figures for gross domestic product that show the U.S. economy contracted by 32.9 percent.
Ohio jobless figures ranked seventh highest year-over-year in April and remained seventh in July, keeping it on par with other large states, Piiparinen said.
He believes COVID-19 opened the door for technology to get a stronger foothold in several areas. He thinks virtual health professional visits and virtual education are here to stay.
“Once the technologies get backed into the process, as they are now, it’s unlikely the toothpaste gets back into the tube,” he said. “Too much capital investment by firms is being put into place. The status quo is no more.”
J.D. Davidson is a regional editor for The Center Square