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Jobs top the list of concerns of community leaders in the region, according to Cleveland Fed survey

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Top concerns of community leaders in the region are jobs, affordable housing, vacant properties and state financing, according to Cleveland Fed survey

To better understand current and emerging issues facing the communities in its region, the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland conducts an annual survey of community leaders in the area it serves: Ohio, eastern Kentucky, western Pennsylvania, and the northern panhandle of West Virginia.

In the latest survey, released today, jobs continue to top the list of current issues facing communities. “Some common themes respondents cited were weak job availability, lack of jobs that pay a living wage in both urban and rural areas, and employers' having a difficult time finding qualified workers,” says policy analyst Matt Klesta who, along with community development advisor Lisa Nelson, conducted this year's survey.

A lack of quality affordable housing is number 2 on the list. “One respondent noted that the supply of current housing options resembles a barbell: very expensive housing for rent at one end, very poorly maintained housing at the other,” says Klesta.

A perennial concern about vacant properties tied with state budget and financing issues as the third most important current issue cited by survey respondents.

The survey also asked community leaders about emerging issues. Among the positive developments noted by the survey respondents were neighborhood revitalization efforts and improved economic conditions; a hope that when energy prices rebound, energy-related development and investment will resume; and a new phase of funding for the Treasury's Hardest Hit Fund for foreclosure prevention and neighborhood stabilization.

Among the negative emerging issues that respondents cited were drug abuse; neighborhood displacement and poor public transportation; and community development capacity and theory.

Want more details? See Issues and Insights 2016.

Economist Stuart S. Rosenthal sheds light on why businesses locate in tall buildings and urban centers

Earlier this year, researchers gathered at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland for a workshop on how city policies and the structure of cities affect the productivity of local economies. The keynote speaker for the event was Stuart S. Rosenthal, a professor at Syracuse University and editor of the Journal of Urban Economics, who presented the findings of his paper, “The Vertical City: Rent Gradients and Spatial Structure.” According to Rosenthal, “There's something about cities that is enormously productivity enhancing that makes it easier for businesses to get the job done.”

We talked with Rosenthal about how policymakers might use those findings and how cities are changing. Read the interview in Intersections of Place, Productivity, and Profit, where you'll also find two short videos in which Rosenthal shares what he thinks are the best and worst things policymakers can do as cities evolve.

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