Document Type


Publication Date


Research Center

Center for Community Planning and Development


Not having a reason to be is the human crisis. Developing worth is the cure. Such is the case not just for people, but for cities. Cities without uses become ghost towns, with a midway existence called “the shrinking city”. Cleveland, like many Rust Belt cities, is a so-called shrinking city. For decades now the region has fought against the anticipation of disappearing. This fight is called “economic development”.

Often, development policies are more instinctive than strategic. Cleveland has lost jobs, mostly manufacturing jobs. The solution, then, is to simply go get those jobs back. But manufacturing as a share of the total U.S. labor force is at an all-time low (8.69%). In Cleveland, it’s 11.7%, down from 17.1% in 2000. This does not mean manufacturing is unimportant to Cleveland. It just means that when you are in the job of job creation, new policies are needed.

New policies are dependent on knowing the issues less viscerally than visionary. The hockey great Wayne Gretzky illustrated this when he said: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been”. Where should Cleveland “skate” in its play at economic development? Answering this question entails understanding the data beyond total gains and losses. Stating “Cleveland has lost ‘X’ number of jobs since 2000” is an empty diagnosis that lacks context of what jobs were gained and/or lost. This quarterly brief aims to help build that context.